Health Care: 13 Lies You Tell Your Doctor

Be honest with your doctor so you can get the best care possible.

Put It All Out There

If there's ever a place to be honest about your habits and your health, it's your doctor's office. Forget the embarrassment -- your doctor's there to help you, and the more information she has, the more she's able to do.

Fess up to binge drinking if you do it because alcohol can impact test results.

'I Never Binge Drink'

Don't want to tell your doc just how hard you party? Binge drinking can throw test results off and send your doctor down the wrong path if you have health problems.

Smoking interferes with medications and causes symptoms so let your doc know if you still smoke.

'I Quit Smoking'

It may seem like a harmless way to avoid a lecture, but your doctor needs to know if you smoke. It can interfere with certain drugs, and might help explain symptoms you may have. And he may be able to help you kick the habit for good, through therapy or medication.

Your true dietary habits are an important part of your health picture.

'I Eat Mostly Kale … '

"... unless there are doughnuts nearby." If you leave out this last part while your weight and "bad" cholesterol skyrocket, your tall tale could lead to less effective treatment. You're not the first person with a doughnut weakness, so just tell the truth -- your doctor might be able to help you manage your eating habits.

Let your doctor know how much or how little you really exercise.

'I Run Every Day'

Tell your doctor the truth about your exercise habits. It will help her figure out how to keep you healthy. If you're not the type to go to the gym every day, that's OK. There are lots of ways to have an active lifestyle: Garden, play with your dog, or take a brisk stroll around the block.

Sex with multiple partners increases your risk of STIs.

'I Had Sex With 1 Person This Year'

A doctor's visit is not a morality test. If you have sex with several partners, you could be at risk for certain diseases, and it might help explain some medical problems. Your doctor's not there to judge, but to help.

Current and prior history of STIs impact your health today.

'I Don’t Have Any STDs'

If you think you have one, know you have one, or have had one in the past, tell your doctor. It may be awkward, but some STDs can be dangerous if they're not treated. They're also contagious. One awkward moment with your doctor now could save you awkward moments with sexual partners later.

Lying about your number of sex partners can impact the way your doctor manages your care.

'I'm Not Sleeping With Anyone'

Lying about having sex -- or who you're having it with -- appears to be pretty common. It may seem like no one's business, but it's important to be honest about whether you're with the same sex, the opposite sex, or both. It can make a difference, especially if your doctor is trying to figure out what certain symptoms might mean (pregnancy, for example).

Low sex drive and erectile dysfunction may be symptoms of another condition.

'My Sex Life Is Great'

If you have trouble in the bedroom -- low sex drive or erectile dysfunction (ED) -- it can be a sign of an illness and your doctor should know about it, especially if you're young and otherwise healthy. Plus, your doctor may be able to improve your symptoms with medication or a referral for psychological therapy.

Report all of your symptoms to your doctor, even ones you think may be minor issues.

'I Feel Great!'

Don't ignore little things that may be bothering you -- they could be valuable clues to your doctor. Do you get headaches when you exercise? That may not seem like be a big deal, but it could be a sign of something serious.

Drug use is nothing you should lie to your doctor about.

'I Don’t Do Drugs'

This can be a dangerous lie. If your doctor prescribes you medication, it may react with street drugs and make you sick or cause other problems. Drug abuse can also cause other issues your doctor may not know to look for. If you have a drug habit or addiction, your doctor may be able to help you stop.

Supplements may interact with medications so let your doctor know what you take.

'I Don’t Take Supplements'

Afraid to get into a discussion with your doctor about those vitamin supplements you buy at the grocery store? Your doctor needs to know. Some may be dangerous if you take them along with other medications or you have certain medical conditions.

Let your doctor know if you skip doses or take less prescription medication than you're supposed to.

'I Take My Pills'

About half of people who are chronically sick don't take their medication the way they're supposed to. If you skip it because you're worried about side effects, or you don't like the way they make you feel, tell your doctor. He may be able to adjust it. If money is the problem he might help you find ways to lower the cost.

Over-the-counter medications may interfere with prescription medication, so let your doctor know what you take.

'I Don’t Take Over-the-Counter Medication'

It's important to tell your doctor about all the medication you take. It can interfere with the way prescription medications work, sometimes in a dangerous way.

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REFERENCES:

  • Harvard School of Public Health: "Physical activity guidelines: How much exercise do you need?" "Leisure time exercise."
  • National Institutes of Health: "Using Dietary Supplements Wisely," "Medication Adherence: WHO Cares?" "Sexual Orientation and Risk Factors for Suicidal Ideation and Suicide Attempts Among Adolescents and Young Adults."
  • Annals of Internal Medicine: "Discordance between Sexual Behavior and Self-Reported Sexual Identity: A Population-Based Survey of New York City Men."
  • The Nemours Foundation
  • DrugWise
  • CDC: "Fact Sheets - Binge Drinking," "Persons Who Use Drugs (PWUD)."
  • LiveScience: "Want to Lose Weight? Let Your Doctor Pick Your Diet."
  • The Mayo Clinic: "Sexually Transmitted Diseases," "Erectile Dysfunction."
  • Emergency Physicians Monthly: "When Patients Lie: How to Spot Deception, What You Can Do, and Why it Matters."
  • American Medical News: "Detecting deception: How to handle a malingering patient."
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "Medicines and You: A Guide for Older Adults."
  • Smokefree.gov: "Which Quit Smoking Medication is Right for You?"
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