How Do You Describe Your Medical Symptoms to a Doctor?


Quick Answer

Patients should use their own words, not medical jargon, to describe their symptoms to doctors, according to U.S. News & World Report. Descriptions of symptoms should include what they feel like, where and when they occur, how severe they are, and how long they have been occurring. Details are important.

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How Do You Describe Your Medical Symptoms to a Doctor?
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Full Answer

Patients should tell their doctors if anything is associated with the symptoms, such as specific foods, time of

day, injuries or activities, states U.S. News. If a patient notices patterns or identifies something that triggers

the symptoms, the doctor should be informed. Analogies to common experiences are also useful when discussing symptoms, because the description is often memorable, clear and enlightening. For example, a headache has several possible comparisons, such as a pounding hammer, an ice pick or an explosion.

Personal information often helps explain symptoms. Patients should share family health histories, travel experiences, medications and stress factors in their lives, advises U.S. News. Even information that seems embarrassing, such as bathroom habits and weight issues, should be mentioned. Sometimes those details are crucial.

To be most effective and organized, patients should create lists of important symptoms and concerns before

their appointments, U.S. News recommends. The lists should be short and to the point rather than records of multiple unrelated issues.

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