10 Things Doctors Say Patients Should Tell Them, But They Never Do

They might not seem important, but they could save your life.

If there's one person you really shouldn't lie to, it's your doctor. After all, medical professionals are there to help, not to judge you, and withholding information from them only hurts you in the end. But while there are some things that you know you shouldn't keep from doctors, there are others that might not even occur to you to reveal, and those can be the most critical. Recently, a Reddit user asked doctors to share something "a patient didn't mention that was really important," and the responses were truly eye opening. Read on to find out which symptoms and habits you should tell your doctor about always.

You spend a lot of time in front of a screen.

woman typing on desktop computer obsolete home items

One medical professional wrote on Reddit about a woman who said she had a headache every evening, in spite of the fact that her medical history was clean and she maintained a healthy sleep schedule. Even after asking her questions about her lifestyle choices, none of them seemed like a red flag to the expert.

"At some point, I just give up and ask what she does for fun," the Redditor revealed. "She plays this video game. Thats how I learned that she sat 14" from a computer screen 80 hours a week."

You're losing weight without trying.

woman showing weight loss

If you've lost more than five percent of your usual body weight in six to 12 months, what you're experiencing is unintentional weight loss, according to one Reddit user. And this is a common symptom of cancer.

"You should be getting age appropriate cancer screening," the medical professional explained, citing pap smears, colonoscopies, mammograms, testicular exams, and prostate exams. "And bring a detailed family history of cancer to your doc, including type of cancer, when it was diagnosed, and what stage it was diagnosed in."

You're experiencing chest pain.

Man Having a Heart Attack

Of course, this may seem obvious to some, but it's worth mentioning because not telling your doctor about your chest pain could literally be deadly.

One medical professional on Reddit wrote about a patient of his who swore he never had chest pains. The man also said "he was able to chop wood and work on his land without any issues." But then, he suffered an enormous heart attack during major surgery. What they found was that he had "one very narrow coronary artery that was the only thing getting blood to his heart."

His daughters were nurses and claimed he "was healthy as a horse and never complained of heart issues." But then, "his black sheep other daughter arrived and said he actually had told her that he terrible exertional chest pain every time he did anything, but that he didn't want his other daughters to know because they would worry." Sadly, he died a a few days later. "If we had known about his symptoms, he would have likely had his cardiac disease diagnosed and treated prior to surgery," the professional wrote.

You have pain in your neck and left arm.

female neck pain

Unfortunately, many people don't know that pain in your neck and left arm are common symptoms of heart attacks in women. That's exactly why they shouldn't be ignored, as one medical student noted on Reddit, retelling a story of a patient he was dealing with.

"[A woman] was saying she was having heartburn and just wanted us to give her 'something to throw up' so she will feel better," the Redditor wrote. "I thought it was odd and so I went through some more review questions and she said her reflux pain was extending up to the left side of her neck and down her left arm [and] that she had been sweating for hours. I cut off the interview short there and went to my teaching doctor to tell him everything and what I thought. Got an EKG. Yeah… she was having a heart attack. Had to call an ambulance and get her to the ER."

You have black stools.

toilet against a sea green wall, home problems

It can be embarrassing to talk about your stools with people. But talking about them with your medical professionals can be key.

"Folks, if you're having black poops…mention that sooner rather than later," one Redditor wrote. "[One] lady has been seeing nothing but black for months before she thought to mention anything. We found several gastric ulcers and a hemoglobin level that circled the drain."

You have bloody stools.

elderly woman talking to male doctor

Even if a medical professional is the opposite sex, don't let that stop you from sharing symptoms—like bloody stools—that could save your life. A medical intern explained on Reddit that he saw a woman in the ER complaining about stomach pain. He "took her full history, did the exam and vitals. She seemed fine—mild fever," he wrote. "Made a preliminary diagnosis of gastroenteritis and presented to my doctor."

He continued: "My doctor (who is female) goes to her and asks why she came to ER for something so mild. She says [it was] because she noticed blood in her stool. The doctor comes out and asks me if I asked about her stool. I did, she said it was fine, and I asked specifically about blood. She goes back in and asks the patient why she didn't mention that to me. Her response : '[I] didn't think it was appropriate to say it to a male intern.' Turns out she had ulcerative colitis, needed a colonoscopy and long term medical therapy and possibly surgery."

You use Viagra.


One doctor wrote on Reddit about a patient who said he didn't use Viagra while his wife was present, but then admitted to it when she wasn't there. This was important because he was having a heart attack and they were going to use Nitropaste—a skin cream that helps increase blood flow to the heart. But mixing that with Viagra could lead to a sudden decrease in blood pressure. The reason for the lie? The patient wasn't using the Viagra with his wife.

"Pro tip," the doctor wrote: "While you toss the family out to do the rectal exam, ask all the questions they won't answer honestly."

You drink heavily.

depressed man drinking whiskey

Your instinct may be to conceal how much you've been drinking from your doctor, but telling the truth could be the key to figuring out what's going on with you.

For example, one Redditor who works in a hospital wrote: "I had a guy come to the hospital who told me he had seizures every Tuesday like clockwork. This is highly, highly unusual for somebody with a seizure disorder. It wasn't until I asked him about his social history that he told me he's a heavy drinker. I investigated further, and it turns out he binge drinks Thursday, Friday, [and] Saturday… then stops cold turkey. He was having withdrawal seizures."

You take a lot of prescription drugs.

Sleeping pills mixing alcohol

Another Redditor mentioned a 45-year-old woman who came into the ER complaining about seizures and a loss of consciousness. She was a nurse who had previously been prescribed Tramadol—a drug used to treat moderate to severe pain, one that is highly addictive. After pressing her for a while, she finally admitted that she was taking 12 of these pills around four to six times a day.

"She was about an hour late with the pills and seized. [She had been] clearing three to four grams of Tramadol per day," the medical professional wrote. "People are getting high on 0.05 to 0.2 grams. She's doing a gram every few hours."

The woman spent days in the hospital as they tried to titrate her dosage down. "She lived," the Redditor wrote. "I was impressed."

You have a strange bump on your skin.

heart attack after 40

One Redditor wrote about a patient who said that she felt perfectly fine, but the expert's instincts were to press her further about anything that might be bothering her, however small.

She she had a "weird lump" on her belly that wasn't bothering her, but that she might "get a dermatologist to have a look at it if it ever needs to be removed." It turned out to be skin metastasis, which occurs when cells from a cancer in the body spread to the skin. "If I had to guess, her life expectancy was probably measured in months," the Redditor wrote. And for an inspiring personal story from someone living with a rare form of skin cancer, read This Is What Life Is Like After a Cancer Diagnosis.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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