The One Thing You Should Never Lie to Your Doctor About
Lying about this could lead to serious, life-threatening health complications.
Doctor's appointments can often be long and tedious, especially when you're seeing a doctor for the first time. This doesn't mean you can cut corners, however: The questions and concerns they raise are often extremely important in regards to your health care. And while you might think a little white lie to your doctor won't hurt, it could actually be more harmful than you realize. While honesty is the safest policy overall, the one thing doctors say you should definitely never lie to them about is your medication use. Read on for more on why truth-telling with your doctor is essential, and for more things you should be honest with your doctor about, This Is Why You Shouldn't Lie to Your Eye Doctor About Floaters.
"Information about what medications—both prescription and non-prescription—you are taking is a critical part of your medical history and should always be provided to your doctor," says Abi Olulade, MD, a board-certified family medicine doctor with Sharp HealthCare. "You should always keep a list of this with you as well, and you may even want to take a picture of the ingredient and dosing list. Medications are made up of chemicals that can interact and react with one another and this can lead to harmful and unwanted side effects."
According to Olulade, there are several negative effects that can result from your decision to not accurately disclose your medication usage. Certain drug interactions can cause medications to be less effective, or even lead to toxic levels of medication in your system.
"We are not here to judge you or to be critical of you. And we want to give you the safest and best care possible," she says. "Lying to us makes our jobs so much harder and can even lead to a wrong diagnosis because we didn't know we had to factor in the effects of a medication that you are taking."
According to Olulade, the adverse effects of unknowingly combining certain medications may be the reason you end up at the doctor next, anyway. She says patients can go through months and months of tests to figure out what is causing a reoccurring symptom—such as dizziness, nausea, and rashes—only to find out that the reason they were experiencing these symptoms was because they failed to disclose a medication they were already taking.
Of course, these are just the minor symptoms that can occur. According to Joseph Mosquera, MD, a medical expert with RxSaver, lying about medications can lead to more serious interactions. He says many of the most common medications can produce "life-threatening" interactions when not appropriately used, including blood thinners, antidepressants, sexual enhancers, anxiety medications, sleeping pills, and opioid pain medications.
Peter Bailey, MD, a family practice physician and Test Prep insight expert contributor, says that he usually sees patients lie about prior medications for three possible reasons: personal embarrassment, the desire for more medication to be prescribed, or the fear of getting in trouble with the law based on where they got previous medications.
However, Bailey makes it clear that due to privacy laws, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), doctors cannot disclose illicit use of medications to law enforcement. "A patient's disclosure of such use is safe with their doctor, so they shouldn't fear legal reprisal," he says. "In addition, the benefits of the doctor knowing this use prior to diagnosis and prescription of further medications is critically important and outweighs the risks of such disclosure."
And while it may be the most important, medication use isn't the only thing you need to be honest with your doctor about. Keep reading for more things you should never lie to your doctor about, and for other signs your doctor-patient relationship is flawed, If Your Doctor Can't Say These 3 Words, You Need a New One ASAP.
Some people may be a little less-than-generous when it comes to revealing how much alcohol use they actually partake in, but Mary Jacobson, MD, the chief medical officer at Alpha, says this is another important factor to be honest about. Certain medications react poorly when combined with alcohol, and severe complications such as seizures could occur when mixing alcohol with certain medication like Wellbutrin. And for more reasons to be straightforward with your doctor, If You're Using This Without a Doctor's Recommendation, Stop Immediately.
You should always disclose if you are pregnant or believe you may be pregnant to your doctor, as many things can affect a pregnancy. But you should also not lie to your doctor about planning or trying for a pregnancy either, says Jacobson. After all, "some medications that we prescribe can cause fetal malformations," she warns. Even something as seemingly unrelated to pregnancy as Accutane, which is used to treat acne, can cause birth defects. And for more health advice from medical experts, Never Put This In Your Body Before Bed If You Want to Sleep, Doctors Say.
You may think it's not pertinent to keep doctors updated with records of your surgical history, but not disclosing this information can be more harmful than you realize. According to Bailey, if your doctor doesn't know about certain past procedures, "it could lead to possible future complications if your current ailment also requires surgery." And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Vitamin and supplement use
Your vitamin and supplement use should be disclosed the same way you disclose medications, says Adriana Chychula, MS, a registered dietitian.
"Even though many of these supplements carry the connotation of being 'natural,' they can still cause harm when taken with certain medications or in large doses," she explains. "Many different herbs and 'natural' remedies interact with the same enzyme systems used to break down medications and can either render the medication ineffective, or increase its strength to dangerous levels." And for a vitamin your doctor might want you to be taking, Lacking This Vitamin Is Putting You at Severe COVID Risk, Study Says.