As an adult, how do you decide when you're sick enough to go see a doctor?
December 6, 2012 6:56 AM Subscribe
As an adult, how do you decide when you're sick enough that you should go see a doctor?
posted by colfax to health & fitness (29 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I think I need some guidelines, or maybe a decision-making tree, for when you should go see a doctor, and when you should just stay home and drink tea and sleep on the couch for a couple of days. My main problem I think is that I don't have any models for that kind of decision-making: my dad never goes to the doctor unless he's cut off a toe or something, and my mom is a hypochrondriac who thinks that any scrape that looks slightly red around the edges is probably infected with flesh-eating bacteria. Basically, I grew up in a house with no middle path.
In addition to not having any models, I am stubborn, accustomed to having to take care of myself, and I probably have an un-usefully high pain tolerance to boot, which means that my general mode of operating goes like this: I start feeling sort of crappy for some reason, but not debilitatingly so. It doesn't even occur to me as an option at that point to slow down for a couple of days and take care of myself, so without really thinking about it, I just end up putting my head down and working harder to overcome the fatigue, etc. I continue on working like that until I am literally too sick to move or until something makes it suddenly apparent to me how much ground I've lost. Then I go to the doctor, half expecting them to laugh me out of the office for being a hypochondriac. But instead of laughing at me, the doctor often tells me that I'm actually a lot sicker than I'd been thinking.
Altogether, this means that I've lost a lot of time to feeling sick. But I feel like there have to be people out there who have this better figured out than I do: who manage to go to the doctor in a more timely manner than I do. If you are one of those people, how do you do it? How do you decide what counts as sick enough to go to the doctor? If you decide to wait for a little while and see if something resolves itself on its own with a little self-care, how do you decide when to stop waiting if it doesn't get better right away? And, maybe this is a weird question, but if you're used to being chronically ill, how do you notice when something has changed from being "sort of normally sick" to "okay, this is a problem that requires attention"? I apologize in advance if this question is a little incoherent. It was prompted by the realization that my earache has been getting steadily worse for a month and a half now, and it's now bad enough that I can't really hear out of that ear, so I should probably go to the doctor tomorrow. Anyway, I'm a little foggy at the moment.