When most people feel under the weather, they often wonder if they should go to the doctor. Unfortunately, healthcare is expensive, so many people choose to fight illnesses at home instead of getting the care they need. Other times, there’s no need to go to the doctor. For example, you probably don’t need prescription medicine if you have a cold.
Still, many people go to the doctor for a variety of symptoms, including coughs and pain. So whether you’re feeling slightly sick, overly fatigued, or you’re experiencing pain anywhere on your body, you might wonder when you should see a specialist. Here are the signs it’s time to see a doctor.
High or Persistent Fever
A fever is your body’s natural way of fighting infection. However, it’s always best to visit your primary care physician (PCP) if you have an unusually high and persistent fever. A fever above 103 degrees Fahrenheit or any fever that lasts more than a few days could be signs of a serious infection.
Sudden Weight Loss
A sudden change in your weight could be a sign of anything from physical illness to a mental health problem. Unexplained drops in weight can indicate anything from thyroid cancer to depression and more. If you lose more than 10 percent of your body weight in less than six months and you’ve changed nothing about your lifestyle habits, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
Sudden Weight Gain
Some illnesses cause people to lose weight, while others cause them to gain weight rapidly. If you’ve experienced sudden weight gain and you haven’t changed your diet in any way, it’s time to see a doctor. Sudden weight gain could indicate hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, and certain types of cancer. However, before you rush out to the doctor, consider your daily habits. For example, if you’ve become more sedentary without changing your diet or fitness habits, you might just realize it’s time to scale back.
If you’re short of breath for more than a few days, it could be a sign of a chronic condition, such as asthma and allergies. If you haven’t been diagnosed with allergies before, you can develop them later in life to anything, including pets and pollen. On the other hand, if your breathing difficulties come on sudden or strong, it could be signs of bronchitis of COVID-19, so immediate treatment is recommended.
Abnormal and intense pain in the chest, pelvis, or abdomen can indicate underlying health issues such as gallstones, appendicitis, or kidney infection. You should get to the doctor immediately, depending on where your pain is and if you’re experiencing any other symptoms.
Changes in Mood
Mood changes affect everyone from time to time, but if you’re experiencing extreme changes in your mood and nothing has changed in your life, you might benefit from counseling or talking to a psychiatrist. Mental health problems have many symptoms, but changes in your mood are a sign, so don’t ignore how you feel daily.
Oral Health Issues
If you’re experiencing any pain, swelling, or bleeding in your mouth, it’s always best to talk to a dentist as soon as possible. Pain in your gums and teeth could indicate a cavity or tooth decay that can impact your health. Other diseases, such as heart disease and obesity, are associated with poor oral health, so if you experience any changes in your mouth, talk to a dentist.
Many people experience headaches, and some people even experience daily headaches. However, that doesn’t mean that headaches should be ignored, even though they can be a symptom of a minor issue, such as dehydration. However, consistent headaches can also be signs of tumors, infections, and brain injury. If you have a headache that over-the-counter medication won’t fix, talk to your doctor, who can perform all the proper testing to figure out the cause of your persistent pain.
Everyone has experienced some type of stomach pain, especially after eating too much food. However, if you experience persistent stomach pains, it could indicate serious illnesses like cancer, ulcers, and even hernias. If you experience stomach pain only after eating a certain food, such as dairy products or gluten, you may have a food intolerance, so it’s best to skip those foods and see if there’s an improvement in your pain. However, if your stomach ache never seems to go away, it’s time to see a doctor.
If you’ve ever had your leg fall asleep while you were sitting, you’ve experienced numbness. However, not all numbness and tingling sensations are the same. Numbness, especially accompanied by a tingly feeling, could indicate nerve problems, including peripheral neuropathy. Neuropathy typically impacts the elderly and diabetics, but if you get numbness throughout the day, consult your doctor to figure out what’s wrong.
Improper posture is a common cause of back pain. However, if you have back pain that never seems to go away no matter how properly you sit, it could be time to see a doctor. Backaches could signify pelvic inflammatory disease and kidney infections, so if your pain won’t go away with medicine or you’re experiencing it constantly, visit your doctor.
Your PCP Says To
If your primary care doctor ever gives you the name of a specialist to see, you know that it’s time to see a doctor. PCPs can uncover problems in your health through regular physicals and asking you how you’ve been feeling. Depending on your healthcare insurance, you may need a doctor’s referral to see a specialist. For example, if your doctor wants you to get tested for cancer, they’ll need to give you a referral for an oncologist. If your regular doctor tells you you need to see someone who specializes in a certain field, always follow their recommendations. You will benefit from more personalized care. For example, if you do have cancer, your doctor will have more resources, such as a tumor board to get you the most optimal treatment options.
Knowing when it’s time to see a doctor could be potentially life-saving, but there’s no reason to rush out the door for minor symptoms, especially if they go away on their own. So if you have a cough one day that’s gone the next, you may not have a serious illness. However, if your cough is persistent and doesn’t seem to be going away, you know it’s time to get help.