Urgent Care at Home – When Do You Need It?
At House Call Doctor Los Angeles, we often hear from patients who tell us they were unsure about contacting us. They knew their situation was not a life-or-death emergency requiring a call to 911, but they were also experiencing some real concern about their symptoms. Below are a few suggestions for determining when medical care is needed based on the following types of symptoms:
- High Fevers
- Stomach/Digestive Problems
- Persistent Cold Symptoms
- Aches and Pains
- Minor Injuries
- Persistent Symptoms of any Kind
Most fevers are not by themselves dangerous and are actually a sign of the body fighting an infection. However, in some cases they can also be a sign that treatment is quickly needed. For most adults, fevers higher than 104 are potentially dangerous and call for speedy medical care, particularly if they do not respond to fever-lowering medications (aspirin, NSAIDS such as ibuprofen/Advil, naproxen/Motrin and acetaminophen/Tylenol). Fevers that are less high but persist more than three days also call for attention. (Note: In children and infants, fevers as low as 100 should be treated rapidly, depending on the age of the child. Consult a doctor if you are unsure in any way.)
Additionally, fevers that are accompanied by any of a large number of alarming symptoms necessitate rapid medical attention. These include severe stomach/abdominal pain, persistent vomiting and diarrhea, a red streak on the body (arms and legs, typically), skin rashes/blisters, painful sore throat and swelling of the throat, earaches, urinary pain, back pain, or severe shaking with chills. Also, a very bad or painful cough with a fever might warrant a visit. Obviously, if blood is being coughed up or there is trouble breathing, medical attention is needed.
(Important Note: Whether or not you see a doctor, always be sure to drink plenty of fluids when dealing with a fever to avoid dehydration. Also, when a fever is not caused by a virus but by exposure to heat, heat stroke is possible and very urgent attention is required, particularly if the patient is not sweating.)
While occasional diarrhea, constipation, or bloating are not serious matters in themselves, they warrant a medical visit whenever they persist. Chronic stomach or digestive problems can be signs of a host of ailments both minor and major that may range from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) to colorectal cancer. They should be investigated.
Persistent Cold Symptoms
While cold viruses are very rarely serious and usually run their course within a week or two, sometimes a cough, runny nose, or sore throat can drag on for what seems like an indefinite period. Rather than suffering in silence, it’s usually a good idea to see if these issues can be addressed or might have some other cause.
Aches and Pains
Severe pain should, of course, be treated very promptly. Minor muscle and joint pain is a fact of life, and more so as we age. However, pains that are severe enough to hamper our quality of life or which are hard to explain, should be addressed. If you find that pain is persistently creating problems for you, and especially if the pain seems unusual or mysterious in any way, then a doctor visit is definitely called for. There is much a skilled physician can do to help treat and manage chronic pain.
While more severe injuries, such as bone fractures, typically necessitate a 911 call or a visit to an emergency room, other injuries might seem less urgent. Apparent sprains, for example, can often confuse patients, but urgent medical care is very often a good idea to help ensure that everything is being done to speed the healing process. Also, minor cuts and scrapes, etc. that appear to have become infected and which do not go away also typically require a visit to a skilled physician.
Persistent Symptoms of Any Kind
The human body is a highly complex mechanism and many things can go wrong. Any symptoms that seem out of the ordinary, particularly those that persist, often call for an urgent care visit. Better safe than sorry!
If you’re worried about any particular condition or your overall health, it’s never a bad idea to see a doctor to allay your concerns. Dr. Michael Farzam and House Call Doctor Los Angeles are here to help. Feel free to call us at the number above or visit our contact page at any time. We’re here to help.