6 Steps To Help You Become More Health Literate

How to become more health literate

Most times when you visit the doctor, it ends up with them using complicated medical jargon. For those of us who haven’t spent years in medical school, these terms can seem very confusing. Studies have shown that 9 out of 10 Americans are health illiterate. Health literacy isn’t simply about being able to read and write, it also involves understanding the terms your doctor uses and their implications. If you’ve ever been stumped at a doctor’s office and haven’t cleared up your doubts, then you might be health illiterate. Improving your health literacy is very important because you can take better care of yourself only if you understand your condition better. Here are six important steps that will help you improve your health literacy.

1. Don’t Hesitate To Ask Questions

Many times we don’t ask our doctor questions because we don’t want to come off sounding ignorant. However, when it’s your health that’s in question, you have every right to keep asking your doctor questions until you have a clear understanding of what they’re telling you. You don’t have to feel embarrassed about not understanding a few terms. After all, your doctor has years of medical training behind him, while you have none. So if there ever is a term you don’t understand or a medicine whose purpose you don’t know, ask your doctor to explain things to you.

Repeat Information To Check Your Understanding

Almost as dangerous as not understanding something your doctor tells you, is misunderstanding it. You might form your own conclusion from what your doctor is saying, but if it’s wrong, then it could lead to serious problems. This is especially true when you misunderstand the dosage instructions for certain pills your doctor prescribes. To ensure that there hasn’t been any miscommunication, repeat back everything that you’ve understood to your doctor. That way, if you’ve made a mistake, they can correct you before it becomes serious.

3. Have Your Doctor Review Your Medicines

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Most of us take pills everyday, whether they’re supplements or medicines prescribed for other conditions we have. These pills might be harmless on their own, but when combined with others, they might have serious repercussions. To ensure this doesn’t happen, bring all your pills to your next doctor’s visit so they can review them (including your vitamins and other supplements). Your doctor will tell you if all these medicines are safe to consume together, or if there are any you need to leave out. Being proactive with your medication can prevent something dangerous from happening.

4. Bring Someone With You

Going to the doctor with someone is just as important when you’re an adult as it was when you were a kid. Bringing another person along with you to your doctor’s appointments can help you remember important information. They might even ask your doctor questions you wouldn’t have otherwise thought of. They could also help you remember everything the doctor said. Bringing another person with you can also make a doctor’s appointment seem less intimidating. It is especially important if you’re older and need someone’s help taking your medicines.

Make A Pill-Cycle Card

If you’re on a lot of medication, it can get confusing to remember when to take which pill. Taking medication at the wrong times and in the wrong quantities can have disastrous results. To avoid this, ask your doctor to help make you a pill card. A pill card is a schedule (usually weekly), that tells you which pill you need to take at what time. You could even buy a pill organizer to keep a track of your medication.

6. Write Down All The Instructions

You might get all the information from your doctor during your appointment, but this is no guarantee that you’re actually going to remember everything. This is why you should always make it a point to write down everything they say, especially medication instructions. This way, you won’t forget anything and you won’t have to keep calling your doctor to clarify.