10 Lies We Tell Doctors and Why Those Fibs Are Dangerous

6. “Just some herbs”

The risk of setting off a dangerous drug interaction is one powerful reason not to lie to your doc. Physician and writer Patricia Elliot writes, in the journal Medical Economics (unavailable online):

Ray, 41, had high blood pressure. “Do you take any homeopathic remedies?” I asked. He said no. I waited for him to say more. “Well, just some Chinese herbs,” he confessed. When he stopped using the ephedrine-like herbs, his blood pressure returned to normal.

7. “Yep, that’s everything”

People are complicated, as we know. Some see more than one doctor because they see their health problems as unrelated or because they want to manage how much information each doctor receives. The dangers are serious, as Glen Stream, a primary-care physician with the Rockwood Clinic in Spokane, Washington, told Physicians Practice:

“Perhaps they’re taking a psychiatric medication that they don’t tell you about and you’re seeing them for their blood pressure. You could prescribe something that could have a potentially fatal complication.”

8. “Only one drink a day”

Alcohol use is a frequent source of patients’ lies. Usually, :whatever a patient tells [us] is half of what they actually do drink,” Dr. Brian Doyle of the UCLA School of Medicine says in this WebMD article.

Moderate alcohol use is no more than one drink a day for women and two for men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which also defines heavy drinking, alcohol abuse and binge drinking here. Identify your own drinking pattern with this National Institutes of Health quiz and learn about “low-risk” drinking. In addition to the ravages of alcoholism, over-use can affect the brain, heart, liver, immune system and pancreas and contribute to a variety of cancers.

9. “I lead a pretty clean life … (today)”

Many a clean-living citizen has had a wild past. Your doctor deserves to hear at least some of it in order to accurately assess your health and look for potential problems. A history that includes using street drugs, risky sexual practices or sharing IV drug needles could mean that your symptoms are tied to liver trouble, like hepatitis C, or a hard-to-diagnose sexually transmitted disease, conditions that respond best to early intervention.

10. “I take my pills like clockwork”

Patients who don’t take the medicine they’ve been prescribed — maybe because they forget, or experience unwanted side effects, or just can’t afford to pay for the drugs — run the risk of getting a wrong diagnosis and of having needless and expensive testing because they fail to fess up. Failing to take antibiotics as prescribed, or stopping them too soon, can cause the medicine to stop working.

What lies do you tell your doctor. Share (the truth) with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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