When people get sick or injured they often wait to see how their symptoms progress before they go to the doctor. They want to see if things get “bad enough” to merit an appointment with a medical professional.
You don’t need to rush to your doctor’s office or an urgent care clinic at the first sniffle, cough, or sneeze, but you shouldn’t ignore your symptoms and hope they go away, either. It’s important to monitor your symptoms, and make sure that you don’t wait too long to seek medical attention. When in doubt, you should call your primary care physician’s office.
When should you go to the doctor?
It’s not always easy to tell whether your symptoms are serious. Maybe you don’t want to take time out of your day to go to the doctor if you don’t have to. Maybe you try to avoid a doctor’s visit for financial reasons. Some people feel embarrassed about visiting their doctor for “little things.” There are several problems with waiting for your symptoms to worsen, however.
Millions of Americans have diabetes or high blood pressure without realizing it. Failing to get treatment or make lifestyle changes in these cases can lead to heart disease and other serious problems.
Remember most upper respiratory infections are viral and should be treated with symptomatic relief before considering antibiotics. We must be judicious with our use of antibiotics as there are so many bacteria gaining resistance. A virus will go away in seven days if you treat it with an antibiotic or a week if you don’t.
You should also consider the people around you. While many contagious diseases are most contagious before you develop symptoms, it’s best for you to know if you have a contagious disease. Sharing your illness with colleagues at work or school can quickly spread an ailment through the community.
Symptoms you should not ignore:
- A high fever
- Intense pain
- Loss of consciousness
- An inability to do normal things like breathe, urinate, stand, or swallow
If you have a primary care physician and make regular wellness visits, you can probably wait on symptoms that can be controlled with OTC medications like ibuprofen. If you have symptoms that go on for more than a week, give your doctor a call.
Call your primary care physician
You can always call your doctor’s office and ask for advice if you don’t know whether your symptoms are severe enough to warrant an appointment. Our recommended best practice is to establish with a primary care doctor for a wellness visit before you get sick. Someone who knows you can better make a proper assessment of your personalized care.
Even if your symptoms don’t require medical attention, keeping your general practitioner informed about your overall health improves the quality of health care that you receive. Talk to a medical professional today.