Im scared to go to the doctor

A doctor can provide you with the information and tools you need to feel confident about your diagnosis, treatment plan and overall outlook. The doctor can also provide you with information about medications and other treatments that may help you manage your disease.

If you’re interested in learning more about your diagnosis, you may want to talk to your primary care doctor (PCP).

Talking to your PCP about your diagnosis

Your PCP can help you manage your disease. Your PCP may refer you to other specialists, such as a pulmonologist, who can provide you with more specific information about your disease.

Your PCP can also help you manage your anxiety. He or she may suggest that you talk to someone you trust, such as a family member, a friend or a clergy person, to help you cope.

Preparing for your doctor’s visit

Ask your PCP to write down any symptoms you’re experiencing. Also ask him or her to write down your medical history, including when and where you’ve been diagnosed.

Don’t worry if you can’t remember the exact details of your diagnosis. You may not even recall it when you talk with your doctor.

You may not be able to remember all of the details about your symptoms or the timing. Your doctor may ask how long you’ve had the symptoms, whether they have been continuous or occasional. For example, you may be asked if your chronic cough started after you began taking a new medication.

You may be asked for your medical history, including:

  • A description of any recent changes in your health
  • A list of all medicines you’re taking, including dosages
  • A list of all allergies you have, including the specific allergen
  • Your family history of asthma

During the appointment

During your visit, your doctor will likely ask you to change into a gown to check your blood pressure. Then, he or she may ask you to change back into your regular clothes.

Your doctor may ask you:

  • About your health history. For example, he or she may ask if you have any recent illness or injury.
  • About your current symptoms.
  • About your current medications.
  • About any smoking or vaping habits.
  • About any other medical conditions you have.
  • About other allergies you have.
  • About any other medications you’re taking.
  • About any past illnesses or injuries.

Your doctor may ask you to describe your symptoms in more detail. For example, he or she may ask you to describe your cough, wheeze and chest tightness.

Your doctor may want to hear a description of your peak expiratory flow (PEF) test. This test can help your doctor determine if your lungs are working well. PEF tests are often performed during annual checkups with your PCP.

During the test, you’ll blow into a small tube that will measure the amount of air you blow out into a bathroom.

If your test results are below the expected range, your doctor will ask you to repeat the test. If they’re above the expected range, your doctor will talk to you about the results and your lung function.

Your doctor will likely review your lung function tests with you. He or she may ask you to repeat the test. If you feel like your lungs are working well, your doctor will probably say that you don’t need to repeat the test.

When your doctor is finished, he or she will likely ask you to sign a consent form. This form tells you that you have the right to refuse treatment and to end the appointment at any time.

Your doctor will tell you what to expect during your appointment and answer any questions you have.

What you can do?

The more you know about your diagnosis, the better your doctor can provide the treatment and care you need.

If you want to learn more about your diagnosis and treatment options, ask your doctor for a referral to a pulmonologist.

Don’t wait for symptoms to get worse before seeing your doctor. If you think you have a lung infection, call your doctor right away.

What happens next?

When you see your doctor?

Your doctor will likely take a physical examination to check for signs of infection and inflammation. For example, he or she may check your:

  • Breathing
  • Pulse
  • Respiration
  • Blood pressure

Your doctor will take your medical history and ask a number of questions, such as whether you have any allergies, whether you’ve been diagnosed with an asthma-related condition, and whether any changes in your symptoms have occurred recently.

Your doctor can give you a physical exam to diagnose your condition. For example, he or she can check your:

  • Lung sounds
  • Movements
  • Breathe
  • Blood vessels

Your doctor doesn’t need to do a lung function test to diagnose your condition.

During the exam, your doctor can also ask you to take a peak expiratory flow (PEF) test. This test measures how well your lungs are working. PEF tests are often performed during annual checkups with your PCP.

If your doctor suspects that your lung function is within normal limits, he or she will most likely talk to you about your lung function tests and your PEF results.

Your doctor also will likely review your lung function tests with you. He or she may ask you to repeat the test. If you feel like your lungs are working well, your doctor usually will say that you don’t need to repeat the test.

Your doctor can diagnose your condition by taking a lung biopsy. As part of the biopsy, a doctor will use a needle to remove a small piece of tissue from your lung. Then, he or she will look at the tissue under a microscope.

How is it treated?

Your treatment plan will depend on the type of condition you have.

If you have chronic bronchitis or emphysema, your doctor might prescribe daily bronchodilators to open your airways.

If you have asthma, your doctor might prescribe an inhaler to help you breathe easier.

If you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), your doctor might prescribe a pulmonary rehabilitation program to help you manage your disease.

Your doctor might also prescribe a long-term maintenance treatment plan. This plan may include:

  • Medications
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Steroids
  • Bronchodilators
  • An immunotherapy treatment to help your body fight the condition

Your doctor might also recommend a nutritional or herbal supplement. For example, he or she might suggest a supplement to help your body fight lung infections.

Your doctor might also recommend one or more of the following lifestyle changes:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Staying active
  • Avoiding secondhand smoke

Key takeaway

Lung infections are very common. They can affect people of all ages, races and ethnicities.

The most common lung infections are upper respiratory tract infections. They include the following:

  • Pneumonia
  • Acute bronchitis
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Emphysema
  • Bronchiolitis
  • Bronchitis
  • Atelectasis

These infections can be contagious and spread from person to person.

The symptoms of lung infections often aren’t easy to spot. So, it’s important to let your doctor know if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue

If you have any of these symptoms, be sure to call your doctor to make an appointment.

You should also let your doctor know if you’re feeling worse or more fatigued compared to usual.

Images by Freepik

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