When Should You Go to the Doctor?
The answer to this question differs according to each situation, of course, according to your unique health history and preferences.
- You should begin by understanding your risk factors and taking them into account: these include your age and any existing conditions, (for example if you have asthma, you need to take any respiratory issue seriously immediately).
- If your provider has told you about warning signs to look for, you need to call that provider right away if you encounter them.
- If you have new symptoms after a procedure, surgery, immunization or injection, or starting a new medicine, you should call right away, even if the symptoms don't seem related (because it could be an early warning of a side effect or complication).
General Questions to Ask
Below are some questions to ask yourself that can help you decide if you should call your provider:
- Do I sense that something is urgently wrong?
Start here. Trust your instincts and see a doctor if you sense that you need immediate medical attention. Always check out chest pains, loss of consciousness, or new severe physical pain.
- What are my symptoms? Have I had them before? If so, how did they get resolved? Would the same approach work now or is there something different about the symptoms this time?
- How long have the symptoms been going on? Are they getting better or worse?
Generally any symptoms that are not improving after one to two weeks are worth pursuing with a healthcare provider. Pay attention to symptoms that are getting worse (and consider the first question).
- Can I get more information from a book or reputable website to answer my specific questions?
- What do I really think would be best for my health (ignoring any worries that I will be a bother if I go to the doctor, or that it will cost too much)?