How to Make Sure Your Doctor Understands You: Use a Symptom Tracker


Talking to your doctor can be intimidating. And when you're trying to get a condition diagnosed, those conversations can be especially stressful. You want to make sure your doctor understands you, all while trying to remember everything you wanted to say! Here's one tool to help you make the most of your appointment and communicate effectively.


Symptom Tracker

This is a chart you can use in the weeks or days leading up to your appointment to keep track of your symptoms. Have you ever gotten to your checkup and forgotten exactly how you were feeling on that one Tuesday? Or what about trying to remember just what it was you were doing when that headache came on. Filling out this chart as you go will give you detailed information to refer to when you meet with your doctor.

Download the chart here: OZSymptomTracker.pdf

How to Use It

Pick five main symptoms you want your doctor to know about. Since your appointment time is limited, you want to focus on the symptoms giving you the most trouble. For each day, number the intensity of the symptom 1 through 5 — with 1 being "not that bad" and 5 being the worst. Use the right-most column to write any details you want to remember to tell your doctor. For example, does this symptom always pop up at the same time each day? Or is there something about the symptom that seems unique to you?

Be Your Own Advocate

Now you can take back your health. Showing this completed chart to your doctor will allow them to see how your symptoms looked over time — in detail. Whether you struggle with nerves when talking to your doctor, or finding the right words to describe your experience, this tool helps you be your own advocate in the exam room and effectively communicate what you experience when your doctor's not there to see it.

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