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When to See a Doctor...medical consulting

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In this page talks about ( When to See a Doctor...medical consulting ) It was sent to us on 05/08/2021 and was presented on 05/08/2021 and the last update on this page on 05/08/2021

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The decision regarding when to see a doctor may vary depending on whether the visit is for preventive care (routine visits) for medical problems or for an emergency. (See also Introduction to Making the Most of Health Care.)


Generally everyone should routinely see their doctor dentist and eye doctor for preventive care. Women should routinely see their primary care doctor or gynecologist for gynecologic examinations. People can obtain a schedule of what type of care is required and how often visits are needed from their primary care doctor. Usually infants and older people need more frequent preventive visits but frequency also depends on a person’s health conditions. For example a person with diabetes or a heart disorder (or risk factors for them) may need to have checkups relatively frequently.


When symptoms or other medical problems develop between preventive visits people may be unsure whether they need to see a doctor. Many symptoms and problems can be handled at home. For example most routine colds do not require a doctor’s attention. Many small cuts and abrasions can be handled by first cleaning them with mild soap and water then applying an antibiotic ointment and a protective covering (see Wounds: First-Aid Treatment).


People with certain disorders should see a doctor sooner rather than later when new symptoms develop. For example if people with a chronic lung disorder (such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) begin to have difficulty breathing or if people with a weakened immune system get a fever they should see a doctor promptly. The immune system may be weakened by diabetes human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection use of chemotherapy drugs or other conditions.


When unsure about the need to see a doctor or other practitioner people can sometimes call their primary care doctor for guidance. Some doctors can be contacted through an online portal or by e-mail for nonemergency questions. Others prefer to be contacted by telephone. Doctors cannot give set guidelines for when to see a doctor and when it is unnecessary because symptoms with the same cause vary too much and symptoms with different causes overlap too much. However some problems clearly require a call to a health care practitioner.


Problem


Reasons to Call


Cold or influenza


Vomiting or inability to keep fluids down


Painful swallowing


Coughing that lasts more than 2 or 3 weeks


Earache


Symptoms that last more than 7 days


Diarrhea


Black or bloody stools


More than 6 to 8 watery stools in children


Symptoms of dehydration (such as very dry mouth and armpits confusion and decreased urination) particularly in children and older people


Digestive problems


A feeling that food is stuck in the throat


Development of or change in heartburn particularly during exercise


Frequent heartburn belching or regurgitation


Persistent or severe abdominal pain


Persistent nausea


General problems


Symptoms that prevent participation in usual activities particularly new or worsened shortness of breath with exertion


Unexplained weight loss


Dizziness or an about-to-faint feeling


Persistent fatigue


Sweating especially heavy or cold sweats


Headaches


Severe headache that peaks in intensity within seconds


Memory loss or confusion


Blurred or double vision


Slurred speech


Loss of balance or dizziness


Seizures


Numbness or weakness in the arms legs or face


Nausea


Heart problems


Rapid or galloping heartbeats (palpitations)


Chest pain


Leg problems


Pain in the calves that worsens when walking


Swelling in the ankles or legs


Menstrual problems


No periods by age 16


Sudden stopping of periods


A period that lasts much longer than usual or is excessively heavy


A sudden feeling of illness while using tampons


Severe or disabling cramps


Rash


Fever of 100.4° F (38° C) or above


A rash that is painful involves swelling or oozes


Sinusitis


Swelling or redness in or around an eye


Problems with vision


Vomiting


Moderate or severe abdominal pain


Symptoms of dehydration particularly in children and older people


Green black or bloody vomit


* The list of problems and the reasons to call a doctor are only a small sample.


In general true emergencies should be handled by calling 911 or the local emergency service to provide ambulance service to the nearest hospital. However deciding what qualifies as an emergency is sometimes difficult because symptoms vary greatly. Learning as much as possible about symptoms of life-threatening disorders (such as heart attack and stroke) in advance is useful and good judgment is often required. If the problem seems possibly life threatening the emergency department is the place to go. The following examples clearly require a visit to the emergency department:


Signs of a heart attack


Signs of a stroke


Difficulty breathing


Heavy bleeding


Burns that are open char or blister the skin; that result from inhalation; that cover a large area; or that are on the hands face feet or genitals


Severe injury (as in a motor vehicle accident)


Poisoning that causes symptoms (if symptoms are minor or do not develop the poison control center can be called first at 800-222-1222 for advice)


A severe allergic reaction


Shock


Sudden severe pain anywhere


Vomiting blood or coughing up a relatively large amount of blood (more than a few streaks in sputum)


Sudden severe worsening of a serious chronic disorder such as asthma or diabetes


Going to the emergency department for less serious problems may be appropriate when the primary care doctor is unavailable such as during weekends or during the night. In some health insurance plans calling the primary care doctor first may be required in order to be reimbursed for a visit to the emergency department unless symptoms suggest a life-threatening disorder. People should know the requirements of their insurance plan before an emergency develops.
  • The Author: wikbe
 
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