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News Room: Press Releases

Five fibs you should never tell your doctor

If your heart starts racing at the thought of your next doctor's appointment, you're not alone. Doctors ask questions you may not want to answer. But it's time to fess up; fibbing can cost you your health.

If you're guilty of telling these common fibs, you're about to learn the consequences.

I'm not taking any medications
Over-the-counter or Internet purchased supplements, vitamins and herbs are all items your doctor needs to know about. "Anything you ingest could affect your health in ways that you may not suspect," says Michelle Kane, DO, Virtua family physician. "If we don't know everything you're taking, we may run unnecessary tests, prescribe medications you don't need or negatively interact with supplements you are taking."

If you're taking non-prescribed medication and worried about the legal repercussions of divulging the information, you're protected by doctor/patient confidentiality.

I kicked the smoking habit
You may think you're pulling a fast one on your doctor by telling him you quit smoking two years ago, but you're not. "We can tell if a patient is a smoker when looking into her nose and throat, listening to the lungs, and simply smelling her breath," says Jeffery Thomas, MD, Virtua family physician.

Fibbing about your smoking habit could lead to a misdiagnosis of asthma or allergy. Also, smoking can interfere with medications you take. For example, smokers on birth control pills are at an increased risk of developing blood clots, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

I'm a social drinker
Maybe you acknowledge that you drink, but your doctor needs to know exactly how much. Alcohol irritates the liver, the organ that aids in digestion and removes waste products. Over time, constant irritation can cause cirrhosis, permanently damaging the liver. Add in prescribed medications, and you could be setting yourself up for further complications.

"Alcohol can reduce the effect of medication," says Dr. Thomas. "It can also increase your risk for seizures and side effects."

I'm feeling fine; I'm not depressed
Think your bout of the blues is a phase you'll soon snap out of? Maybe not. Even mild symptoms of depression can have a tremendous impact on your life including your relationships, level of intimacy and motivation to work. Talking with your doctor about your feelings can help you get the tools you need to return to your normal self.

I followed your instructions
Doctors understand you may not be able to follow their instructions to a "T," but lying about it could impact your health. "Sometimes the best treatment for a patient isn't the easiest for him to follow," say Dr. Kane. "However, we need to understand patients' obstacles to overcome them."

Dr. Kane explains if the expense or side effects of a medication are too much to handle, ask about a generic option or one with fewer side effects. If you prefer alternative methods of treatment to prescriptions, talk with your doctor about the safest approach.

The bottom line is that when it comes to your health, you need to fess up and tell the truth. Anything less could cost you your health.

As one of New Jersey’s largest health systems, Virtua helps people be well, get well and stay well through a comprehensive range of health care services. Services are delivered through three health and wellness centers, three fitness centers, three acute care hospitals, primary and specialty physician practices with more than 240 physicians, urgent care centers, nine ambulatory surgery centers, home health services, two long-term care and rehabilitation centers, 12 paramedic units and a wide range of outpatient services. A leader in maternal and child health services, Virtua delivers more than 8,000 babies a year. Virtua also provides employment and wellness services to 1,700 businesses and corporations. An innovator in clinical and information technology such as electronic medical records, Virtua is recognized for its ground-breaking partnerships with GE Healthcare, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the Fox Chase Cancer Center. Virtua employs more than 8,700 people and has been honored as the #1 Best Place to Work in the Delaware Valley every year since 2007. It is the recipient of the Consumer Choice Award from the National Research Corporation. For more information, visit or