Search Frustration—What happens when you Google random symptoms. We all know there’s a certain site that tells you you have cancer for every headache, ankle sprain, and stomach ache.

But how do you know when something is serious? When should you go to the doctor?

There are a few universal reasons to go the doctor:

-A very high fever

-Redness, pain, and swelling (a sign of infection).

Then there are other times to go in:

-If symptoms last more than two weeks

-If symptoms get worse instead of better

Those are just generalizations—you should also always use common sense! i.e., if you have a possible concussion, severe pain, obvious injury, etc.

Here’s a good tip: find out who runs your local ambulances and other emergency personnel. While private companies will charge you regardless, in places where ambulances are government operated (and sometimes firehouses) they can check you out free of charge as long as you don’t go for a ride. If you know it’s free, you can feel more comfortable getting an on-site opinion if you’re ever in an accident.

Luckily, most ailments aren’t serious. It’s probably not cancer unless you have sudden, unexplained weight loss or other hallmark symptoms. But, you should ease your mind by getting regular check-ups, including a mole screen, pap smear, colonoscopy, etc. (talk with your doctor about your particular risk to figure out at what age and frequency you need these tests!).

If you’re ever unsure, call. Most doctor’s offices and insurance companies now offer 24 hour nurse hotlines to help reduce the expense of unnecessary visits.

How often do you see your doctor?


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