Effectively managing your psoriasis symptoms includes communicating with your doctor. Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes red, itchy scaly patches on the skin. It can be quite painful and uncomfortable. But some people may go long periods of time without symptoms and experience flares of the disease. Others might live most days with symptoms.
While there are treatments, managing psoriasis requires you to make sure your doctor knows exactly what is going on so treatments can be adjusted when necessary. The following are tips for developing effective communication with your doctor:
Keep track of your symptoms - When you have a chronic illness, it is important to track your symptoms on a regular basis. When visiting the doctor, it is hard to remember how you felt two, three or four weeks ago. Writing your symptoms in a notebook on a daily basis gives you concrete information to share with your doctor.
Make a list of questions or concerns. There is nothing more frustrating than driving home from a doctor’s appointment and remembering a question you wanted to ask. Keep a notebook in a convenient place so whenever you think of a question or concern, you can write it down to discuss with your doctor at your next appointment.
Be specific. When describing your symptoms, be as specific as possible. This helps the doctor understand exactly what you are experiencing and gives him an idea of the severity of your psoriasis - important information for effectively managing treatment.
Speak up when you don’t understand something. If you aren’t sure what your doctor means or aren’t sure about a recommended treatment, speak up and let your doctor know you don’t understand or need additional information. There’s no reason to be embarrassed to speak up if it means getting the best treatment for you.
Be honest about your adherence to treatment. You might be embarrassed to admit that you don’t always follow the recommended treatment or sometimes forget to take or use medication. However, your doctor needs to know this information. He can’t determine if a treatment is effective if he is basing his determination on partial information. Although it might be embarrassing, it is essential to share this type of information.
Report problems in between appointments. If you notice your symptoms are worsening, you are experiencing severe side effects or a treatment doesn’t seem to be working, contact your doctor right away. Some people hold off and wait until their next appointment but that means you are going to suffer needlessly for several weeks or months. Keep in communication with your doctor in between your appointments when necessary.
Don’t wait for your doctor to bring something up. This one is very important. If you have concerns about your illness or treatment, don’t wait for your doctor to mention it. Instead, write your concerns in your list of questions to ask and be sure to mention it during your appointment. Waiting for your doctor to bring it up is asking your doctor to be a mind reader. You will receive the most effective treatment if your doctor has complete information. Writing questions down and reading them from a list can also reduce some of the nervousness you may have about bringing up sensitive topics.
Talk about how your psoriasis symptoms impact your emotional health, social life and overall well being. Although psoriasis is a physical illness, for many people it has a negative impact on other parts of their life. If this is what is occurring in your life, talk to your doctor so together you can work on solutions.
Remember, you and your doctor are a team. Managing the symptoms of psoriasis takes both of you working together. It is your job to give your doctor accurate and complete information and it is your doctor’s job to research, recommend and monitor your treatment.
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Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.