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Lies You Shouldn't Tell Your Doctor

Is saving face at the doctor's office worth the health risks?

No harm in a little white lie — or is there? Find out how these six doctor's office lies can compromise your health.

1. “Yes, I took the medication like you told me.”

If you didn’t take the medication as prescribed, ‘fess up. Tell your doctor why you stopped. Cost, stigma, side effects, and simple forgetfulness are common barriers — explaining your reasoning allows your doctor to help come up with a solution. Feeling “fine” isn’t a good enough reason to stop taking your meds without consulting your doctor first.

When you say you took your medication but you really didn’t, your doctor might understand that the medication isn’t working. She could up your dosage, or put you on something else.

2. “I’m not taking any other meds or supplements.”

People often forget to mention the most common drugs, like aspirin and birth control. Vitamins and supplements, too — for instance fish oil, vitamin D, or melatonin — may slip under the radar. A good rule of thumb is that if you take it more than once per week, you should let your doctor know.

Common over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen, can cause long-term side effects including stomach pain, heartburn, and ulcers. Oral contraceptives can increase your risk of blood clots and stroke. While supplements are often all right on their own, they can interact with other medication you might be taking.

3. “I barely drink.”

When it comes to alcohol, most of us are guilty of underestimating how much we drink on a regular basis. Though you might be embarrassed to admit to a handful of drinks per day — even if it’s wine — you should report it to your doctor.

Consuming more than two or three drinks per day can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, as well as conditions such as ulcers, liver disease, stroke, heart disease, breast cancer, and pancreatitis. Not to mention, alcohol may alter the effectiveness and side effects of certain medications.

It isn’t your doctor’s job to scold you, but to help you. In playing down the truth, you’re making that job more difficult.

4. “I’m not on a diet.”

Fad diets, diet pills, cleanses, fasting, and detoxes can have an impact on your body, especially in the long-term. Hiding your eating habits from your doctor is taking a chance — your doctor may not be on the lookout for symptoms of health conditions such as deficiencies, dehydration, blood sugar imbalances, and kidney dysfunction.

You should be talking to your doctor about your eating habits even if you don’t think they’re doing any harm. It’s a good idea to have a conversation with your doctor about a gluten-free or vegan diet, too. Remember, your doctor is there to help you take care of yourself.

5. “I always use protection.”

You know and practice safe sex — except when you don’t. Though you might feel mortified admitting that you had unprotected sex, avoiding disclosing this to your doctor can only worsen the situation. Few STDs have obvious symptoms, and when left untreated, they may cause complications, such as cervical cancer, infertility, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). You might even transmit the disease to another partner. If you’re not comfortable going to your family doctor, many public health clinics offer confidential or anonymous testing.

6. “Me? I’m not a smoker.”

In denial about your smoking habit? You may be lying to yourself, but you shouldn’t lie to your doctor. Studies have shown that approximately 13 percent of smokers don’t tell their doctor, whether because of stigma, or fears related to their families or insurance providers finding out.

Chances are, you know that smoking poses major health risks. Telling your doctor can give you access to screenings and evaluations to monitor your health, as well as medication, counseling, and other resources to help you quit, if you’d like to.

[Image via Getty]

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