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Talking to Your Doctor

Medically reviewed by: Maria E. Petrini, MD

When you were younger, your parents made the decisions about your health. They set up your doctor visits and did all the talking for you. Now that you're older, you know more about your body and mind. You probably want to make some health choices yourself.

It’s good to be as involved as you can. People who play a role in their own care make better decisions. They stay healthier.

What’s the best way to start? By talking with your doctor.

Begin With Answering Questions

Anytime you go to the doctor, you can use it as a chance to answer questions instead of looking to your parent to do it for you. As you do more of the talking, your parent can do less. Most parents feel proud to see you take the lead.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

As you get older, your doctor or nurse will probably see you alone for part of the visit while your parent waits. Little by little, you start to play a bigger part in your own health care.

What Should I Talk to My Doctor About?

If you go to the doctor because you’re sick or think you have a health problem, you’ll talk about your symptoms. If you have an injury, you’ll explain how you got hurt. In addition to answering the health provider's questions, you can also ask your own.

For people who have a health condition (for example, diabetes or asthma) talking with your doctor or nurse is the best way to learn to manage it well. Ask questions if there’s something you don’t understand. Use a notes app to keep a record of anything you need to remember.

You can talk to your health provider about any topic related to your health. This includes your mental health.

Problems with your mental health can affect your physical health, too. Your doctor will want to know about anything you’re going through. For example, let them know if you’re going through a problem such as bullying, stress, violence, or abuse. Or if you’re dealing with depression, anger, anxiety, or an eating disorder. If you’ve been through a trauma, share that too.

No matter what problem you’re dealing with, talking about it with a doctor or nurse can be the first step to getting the help you need. They can ask the right questions, listen, and offer ideas. They can prescribe treatments for you and refer you to a specialist if you need one.

Talking with a doctor helps you learn to take good care of your health, get help with problems, and be as healthy as you can be.

Medically reviewed by: Maria E. Petrini, MD
Date reviewed: February 2022