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How to Talk to Your Doctor

For those who have been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, visits to doctor offices are all too common. But going to the doctor frequently doesn’t seem to lessen the stress. In fact, sometimes it is even more difficult, especially when it comes to talking to your doctor. 

Here are some tips to make it easier for you to communicate with your doctor.

Before you arrive at the doctor’s office

Think about what you want to ask and write it down. 

Make a list of questions and concerns. As new questions come to mind, make sure to write them on the list so you won't have to rely on remembering. If you feel rushed during the visit, you'll have all your questions ready and be able to go through your list. Don’t be shy about asking any questions you may have.

Listening and understanding

When we are anxious or fearful we often hear what we want to hear or what we think we should hear. This is especially true in the early stages of kidney disease.   

It is a good idea to bring a notepad and take notes. Or have a trusted friend or family member come with you and take notes. When you get home, the notes will help you review what the doctor said and remind you of some points you may have forgotten.

If you don’t understand a technical term your doctor is using, ask the doctor to explain it. 

Also, if you have difficulty understanding your doctor, ask the doctor to repeat what was said. If it is still unclear to you, ask the doctor to write down the words or phrases you don’t understand. If your doctor speaks a language different from your own or has an accent you find difficult to understand, perhaps another office member can interpret what the doctor is saying for you.

Don’t feel rushed or leave the office confused. Be sure all your questions are answered and that you understand the information being presented to you.

When you are talking with your doctor

Answer your doctor's questions thoroughly. Your doctor will be better able to make a diagnosis and recommend treatment when you provide complete information.

Include everything important about your health. Something that you think might be serious may be easily treated. Tell your doctor about any changes in bodily functions, sleep, pain or tiredness. Ask direct questions that will help you better understand your diagnosis and treatment.

Some basic questions might include:

  • What is wrong with my health? 
  • What is my diagnosis?
  • What medications are you prescribing and what are they for? 
  • Do the medications have any side effects?
  • Are there other methods of treatment?
  • What are the risks that go along with treatment?
  • What should I expect during treatment?
  • Are there side effects to the treatment?
  • Do I have any physical restrictions?

These tips may seem simple. But fully understanding your condition and treatment is important to your health and well-being.

If you would like to see a doctor who specializes in the care of kidneys, called a nephrologist, you can use DaVita's Find a kidney doctor tool to locate a nephrologist in your area.

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