Jump on health concerns - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Jump on health concerns

We know those people who hate going to the doctor, and who refuse to get nagging pains and problems looked at. We’ve also seen how those pains and problems can suddenly explode into something major. Keeping a close eye on what your body is telling you isn’t hypochondria–it’s simply good sense!

Step 1: pay attention to the signs

Your body is designed to alert you to problems. Pay close attention, and if something feels off, monitor it for a while. For instance, stiff joints in the morning may be nothing unnatural, but if pain persists for a while, and painkillers aren’t helping, it’s time to get it checked out. If your eyes start to get a little fuzzy, pay attention to that as well–watch to see if they clear up, and if they don’t, take that as your hint.

Step 1a: what not to do

Don’t try to fix the problem yourself! Home remedies, homeopathic remedies, and over-the-counter meds are okay as a first line of defense, but be honest with yourself if the problem persists. Avoid looking online to research your symptoms. This can only lead to panic, since symptoms of relatively minor illness can also be similar to major problems. You aren’t the doctor–you can’t diagnose yourself.

Step 2: see a doctor

For most problems, the best place to start is with your general practitioner (GP). He or she can usually diagnose most illnesses and help you get a better perspective on funky pains or other ailments. If you need to see a specialist, your GP will know how to direct you.

For some issues, you probably will know right off the bat that you need to see a particular kind of doctor. If you start noticing blurred vision or flashes of light, go straight to your eye doctor. If you’ve got bleeding gums, see the dentist.

Step 3: bump it up

Should you need to see a specialist, such as a rheumatologist or allergist, make your appointment immediately. These doctors are often booked up for as much as a month away. Ask your GP for a referral, which may help you be able to schedule a closer appointment. Unless you’re in an urban area, you may have to travel to the closest large town to see such a doctor. As frustrating as scheduling or traveling might be, it is essential to see these doctors. Only a rheumatologist will truly know what type of rheumatic disease that knee pain turns out to be and be able to prescribe appropriate beta-blockers and other medications. It may take an ear, nose, and throat doctor or a pulmonologist to think to spot sleep apnea, a condition which may require the help of a breathing device.

Step 4: follow up

Do what the doctor tells you. If you need to make lifestyle changes, make them. Attend your follow-up appointments. Maintain yourself and your treatment plan, and if your symptoms come back or get worse, jump on them all over again. Jumping on your symptoms, seeing the appropriate doctors, and doing what they tell you to do can keep potentially major illnesses at a level so manageable, you hardly notice them.  


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