Some of the Most Common Lies We Tell Our Doctors

Common lies may sound OK, but they should be avoided at all times.

Admit it, you’ve lied to your doctor more than once. You may not have fully lied to your doctor, but you’ve stretched the truth. Unfortunately, you’re not alone.

WebMD surveyed 1,500 people and discovered 13 percent flat out lied to their doctors while 32 percent stretched the truth. The study also found that patients aged  24-34 were more likely to like to their doctors compared to patients aged 55 and older.

What are some of the most common lies?

“Yes, I’m taking my medication as prescribed.”
38 percent lied about following their doctors’ orders. When patients like about medical adherence, this can result in also lying about whether or not they’re feeling better. Building one lie on top of another may cause the physician to increase a dosage or prescribe an entirely new unneeded medication.

“I’ve been eating healthy and exercising regularly.”
32 percent lied about their diet and exercise habits. If a patient has a condition that can be improved with the help of a required change in diet and exercise, it is unwise to go against that order. If you are taking medication for diabetes, high blood pressure, etc., the medication may not be as effective if one continues to have a poor diet.

“Me, smoke? Of course not.”
22 percent lied about smoking. Tobacco can interact with medicine in the liver. The liver produces enzymes that break down medication. One of these enzymes is called CYP1A2. Smoking increases this enzyme causing it to break down medication faster than usual. This may cause a smoker to require a higher dosage of medication than someone who doesn’t smoke in order to have effective therapeutic benefits.

“Doctor: Are you sexually active? Me: No.”
17 percent lied about their sexual activity. It’s OK to admit to being sexually active. It’s also OK to admit to the number of sexual partners you’ve had within a certain period of time. 

“I drink maybe once a month.”
16 percent lied about their alcohol consumption. The study also showed men are more likely to like about their alcohol intake compared to women 24 percent vs 15 percent.

“I don’t use any other drugs or alternative meds.”
12 percent lied about recreational drug use. It’s very important for a doctor to know if you’re using recreational drugs to prevent possible side effects, addiction or overdose. Admitting to recreational drug use may also open the conversation up to medication monitoring and counseling to assist the patient. 7 percent lied about taking alternative medicine including herbs, supplements or other alternative therapies. Although herbs are assumed to be “all natural” and “safe,” herbal supplements can have interactions with each other, medication, food and alcohol.

“You’re the only doctor I’m seeing.”
7 percent lied about getting a second opinion. It is your right to get a second opinion, but it is important to let your doctor know if you received any medication or other treatment from another doctor.

“That doesn’t run in my family.”
6 percent lied about personal or family history. Disclosing genetics, environmental and behavioral factors that run in the family can allow a physician to assess a patient’s disease risk along with other risk factors. This can also allow the physician to discuss prevention and protective behaviors including lifestyle changes.

“Nah, that doesn’t hurt” or “I’ve been in so much pain, doc.”
2 percent didn’t disclose all of their symptoms or exaggerated them.

“Yes, I understand.”
Of all common lies, this one tops the cake! Never lie to your doctor about fully understanding instructions. Up to 80 percent of medical information provided by a physician is forgotten immediately. Many people hate going to the doctor. This may cause many to rush and not ask questions during a visit. Fully listen to the instructions provided by your physician. If you know you have a short attention span, have your physician write down the instructions for you to take home and read prior to beginning your treatment. Whatever you do, DO NOT Google instructions.

Why do patients lie?

50 percent didn’t want to be judged
31 percent felt as though the truth would be too embarrassing
21 percent thought the doctor simply wouldn’t understand
9 percent figured it was none of the doctor’s business
6 percent admitted lying to get a particular drug or treatment

Bottom line: It’s dangerous to tell these common lies to your physician. If you want the best treatment, tell the truth. Why be dishonest when it comes to something as important as your health?

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