Many people pride themselves on always telling the truth, but when it comes to telling doctors about bad habits, they lie through their teeth.

But there’s no reason to lie to the doc. Doctors are human and understand that everyone makes mistakes and has bad habits.

At Ask Dr. Nandi, we encourage you to be your own health hero. To do that, you’ve got to start with telling your doctor the truth, even when it’s embarrassing. Here’s how to do it.

Forget About Judgment

People often lie to their doctor because they fear being judged. You don’t want the doctor to think you’re lazy, so you say you exercise. You know you shouldn’t smoke, so you deny that you do. You’re embarrassed about the number of sexual partners you’ve had, so you decrease the number by one or two or 30. Forget about being judged. Doctors have heard it all, and they’re not there to judge you. They’re there to keep you healthy and to do that, they need to know the truth.

Answer Their Questions

Doctors ask questions for a reason. To diagnose and treat you, they need to hear honest answers. When you lie, it makes an accurate diagnosis difficult. For example, you may omit something – such as drinking a bottle of wine each night – that explains the results of your liver function test. If you haven’t been taking your insulin correctly but are too embarrassed to tell your doctor, he or she will waste time, money, and resources to look for other causes of sugar imbalances.

Dr. Nandi's Health Quiz

What You Should Share

There are common things that people tend to lie about, yet they’re some of the most important to discuss with your doctor. Instead of hiding them, talk about the following with your physician:

  • Eating habits
  • Exercise and activity level
  • Alcohol overindulgence
  • Smoking
  • Illicit drug use
  • Unprotected sex
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Over-the-counter medications
  • Herbs
  • Supplements
  • Vitamins
  • Alternative therapies

Discuss All Medications and Supplements

If you’re taking any type of pill or supplement on a regular basis, your doctor needs to know about it, even if it’s just Tums or Tylenol. Certain supplements interact with medications and cause severe side effects, and other over-the-counter medications can counteract prescription pills, making them ineffective. Other times, medications cause abnormalities in lab work or hide symptoms that your doctor should know about.

Whatever your issues, be your own health hero and share them with your doctor.

Partha’s Rx

  • Find a doctor that you can trust
  • Always be open and honest with your physician
  • If you aren’t taking medications as prescribed, tell your doctor
  • Keep doctors updated on any risky behaviors
  • List all vitamins, herbs, and supplements that you take
How Do I Tell My Doctor the (Embarrassing) Truth?