It happens more than you care to admit. You have a question for your doctor that gets pushed aside and before you know it, she's left the exam room. How can you make sure to get the most bang for your buck at the doctor's office?

We all know we need to stay on top of our health but let's face it — no one is really all that crazy about an annual physical exam. You may feel the same as you felt 10 years ago, but like it or not, your body is changing. So pick up that phone and schedule your annual physical now, while you are thinking about it. We've got some tips for how to get the most out of your time with the doctor.

Make a list

Think you'll remember that twinge in your back or that crazy-looking freckle you wanted to ask about? If you're a mom, you'll most likely forget the question. Keep a running list of anything you would like to ask your doctor, and then go back over your list the day before your appointment to prioritize your questions. This is your time with the doctor, and if she is at all hesitant to answer your questions, it might be time to find a new doctor.

Describe your symptoms

Do you have a specific complaint to dig into with your doctor? When describing an ailment, the way you describe it may make it easier for the doctor to figure out. If you have a nagging cough, how long have you had it? Is it productive (coughing stuff up) or dry? When did your rash first appear? How long have you been having sleep issues? Really think about it and be specific, but to the point. Your doctor doesn't need to know that your rash appeared when you were visiting Aunt Helen, but he may need to know that you went hiking (poison ivy, anyone?).

Be a detective

magnifying glassMany conditions and diseases that surface in our older (ahem) years have hereditary origins. Maybe your mother hasn't had anything of note in her health history, but what about her mom? Things like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer and other conditions may have somewhat of a genetic link. Do a little bit of detective work with your parents and see if there is anything in your family tree that's worth mentioning — then write it down.

Compile your stats

There are all sorts of little tidbits your doctor may ask — and especially if you don't see the doctor very often, it helps to be prepared. Have you ever been hospitalized? What medications are you currently taking and in what dose? Any allergies to medications? What was the first day of your last period? We always assume we can remember these things, but why worry yourself? Write them down. Now when your doctor has you fill out the lengthy questionnaire about your health, you have some history to share.

Proper lead-in

Many people are reluctant to bring up their concerns with the doctor, but that's what you're paying for. Wait too long and the doctor will be ready to wind up your exam before you've even asked a single question on your list. Right when the doctor enters the room and asks how you are, tell him that you are here for your annual physical but have several questions for him. That way he knows to leave time at the end.

Make the most of your limited time with the doctor by being prepared ahead of time.

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