Generally speaking, as part of preventive care, everyone is expected to have routine visits to their physician, dentist and ophthalmologist (eye doctor). Women should also have routine check ups with their primary care doctor or gynaecologist for gynaecological examinations. However, sometimes the decision to actually see your doctor for any specific issue is not always the easiest decision to make for some individuals.
Many people sometimes feel like the problem is trivial and do not want to waste their money and time visiting the doctor or that t will simply just get better by itself. This becomes a real dilemma when it is children that are involved. Whatever the case, it is important to understand that not only major symptoms or incidents are deserving of seeing a doctor, early detection of numerous diseases usually results in a better outcome.
There are by no means any steadfast set of signs or symptoms that you should see a doctor as everyone is different. However, here are a few instances in which it would be advisable for you to seek medical attention.
Lingering and worsening Cold
One of the more difficult things is to determine when to go to the hospital for a cold. While some medications may help relieve the symptoms of a cold, none will actually make it go away faster as it is a viral infection. However, if your cold does not pass after 2-3 weeks or the symptoms get even worse, it is a sign to seek professional help. It is also important to look out for the following general markers to go to the hospital:
- Extreme difficult swallowing, shortness of breath and chest pain are not normal cold symptoms and may indicate the presence of a more serious condition.
- A severe cough that is persisting for more than 2 weeks is usually an indication of whooping cough.
- The presence of the flu may be possible if you are experience symptoms such as fever and muscle aches. In such cases it is best to see your doctor, especially for pregnant women and heart disease victims where the risk of complications is higher.
- Difficulty keeping foods and fluids down may mean that you need an IV to get the fluids in order for your body to function normally.
A persistent high fever
Fevers are the body’s natural way of fighting infections, be it viral or bacterial. Low grade fevers of up to 101 degrees Fahrenheit are usually symptoms of a viral infections and need to just run their course. However, if your fever is higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius) or that lasts for more than 3 days, then you should probably see your doctor as soon as possible as it could indicate a more serious bacterial infection which would require antibiotics to clear.
Sudden unexplained weight loss
As a general rule of thumb, if you are not obese and you have lost 10% of your body weight in the past six months, then you should most likely contact your doctor. Sudden and extreme weight loss can be a symptom of an overactive thyroid, depression or even liver disease.
Sharp or shooting stomach pain
Unless you can specifically identify the pain or it dissipates in a few days, you should contact your doctor. A sharp pain originating from middle of the stomach and radiating to the lower right side is a sign of appendicitis and you should see your doctor if the pain continues for more than 4 days.
Shortness of breath
There are numerous natural causes for shortness of breath such as strenuous exercise, high altitude and high temperature. But if none of these are causing the breathlessness, then you should see your doctor and ask about the possibility of asthma, bronchitis or any other condition that can explain the symptoms, especially if the onset was sudden and strong.
Severe chest, abdominal or pelvic pain
Strange, strong and sustained pain in any of these regions might indicate a condition that requires immediate medical attention. For example, you may be having a heart attack for chest pain, gallstones for abdominal pain or a kidney infection for pelvic pain.
Confusion or changes in mood and behaviour
Mental health issues can give rise to certain behavioural and mood changes in an individual. In addition to this, it may give rise to physical conditions such as infection or drug interaction. It is important to look out for irregular sleep patterns, troubling thoughts, anxiety or depression and seek a mental health professional.
Intense abnormal headaches
Even though headaches and migraines are relatively normal, it is important to be on the lookout for specific characteristics such as a different kinds of pain, pain in a location you’ve never felt before etc. In addition, if your headache happens to be accompanied by a red rash then you should seek medical attention immediately as this could be a sign of meningitis.