How to tell when you should call a doctor – Guide

There has never been a time when we pay so much attention to our health. But how can we tell the difference between everyday pain and suffering and more serious symptoms? Among diseases that can be treated with home medicines and those that require a visit to the doctor? It can be difficult to know where to draw the line, says Dr. Diarmuid Quinlan, a general practitioner in Glanmire, Cork. “There are a lot of self-limiting conditions, like earaches and coughing, that resolve in days or weeks, but there are rare occasions when these same symptoms are signs of something more serious,” he says. “It’s hard to differentiate between the two.” If you have a seasonal cold or need medical intervention, here it is. how to tell the difference:


There are all sorts of causes for headaches, according to Kathy Maher, who runs Haven Pharmacy in Duleek in Co Meath with her husband Tom. “Tension, lack of sleep, dehydration, too much screen time and even fever of hay can cause a headache,” she says.

How to treat him in home:

Acetaminophen should do the trick, says Dr Quinlan. “Even massaging your head can help, as can drinking a little water or other liquids.” See your doctor if… your headache is constant, severe, recurrent, or accompanied by other symptoms. “If you’re not feeling well, you feel nauseous and you have a fever, or if your headache isn’t responding to pain relievers, see your doctor,” says Dr. Quinlan.

A cold

With over 200 different cold viruses in constant circulation, we can all expect to catch two to three colds a year. Children can take even more. What we may not realize is how long it takes us to recover from them. “People think they’re going to get over a cold in a day or two, but that doesn’t happen,” says Maher. “A cold can last for up to two weeks. ” How to treat him in home: “Decongestants can be used to unblock the nasal passages,” says Maher. “Sprays and lozenges can relieve sore throats. Extra fluids will keep you hydrated, and a simple inhalation of steam will help clear your head. ” See your doctor if… your temperature rises and is persistent, if you have visual problems or severe pain. “What at first looks like a cold can sometimes be the flu, which can be a much more serious illness,” says Maher. However, there is usually no need to visit the doctor if the symptoms are little more than a runny nose, a mild cough, and a low-grade fever.

extreme tiredness

Interrupted sleep is not the only reason for tiredness. “Stress, whether physical or psychological, is a common cause,” says Dr. Quinlan. “Or it could be anemia, underactive thyroid, diabetes or even hepatitis C, which is common but relatively undiagnosed in Ireland.” How to treat him in home: Try to sleep eight hours a night. Exercise regularly and get as much fresh air as possible during the day. See your doctor if… none of these interventions make a difference and you are still constantly tired.


“This is usually caused by a viral infection and is very common in children,” says Maher. “It can also be caused by a cold, hay fever or even blocked wax.” How to treat him in home: “Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen early on for pain and inflammation,” says Dr. Quinlan. “The problem should resolve itself in three to four days.” See your doctor if… you have a discharge in the ear, if the pain is accompanied by dizziness or severe headache, or if it doesn’t improve in four days.

abnormal vaginal bleeding

Possible reasons for this include infection, pregnancy-related illnesses, cancers, and polyps, which are small lump-like growths. See your doctor if… “You are in any way concerned,” says Dr. Quinlan. “The keyword is abnormal. If there is no reason for the bleeding, see your doctor. ”

Unintentional weight loss/gain

Possible underlying causes for this include thyroid problems, hormonal imbalances, food malabsorption, diabetes and cancer. See your doctor if… you continue to lose or gain weight for no apparent reason. “Especially if there are other problems like coughing or blood in the urine,” says Dr. Quinlan.

feces with blood or urine

Minor problems that can cause this include constipation, hemorrhoids or laceration in the rectum. However, bloody stools can also indicate bowel cancer. How to treat him in home: Increasing your fiber intake or taking over-the-counter treatment can help with constipation. Oral creams and pain relievers can relieve the pain of hemorrhoids, as can hot baths. See your doctor if… “The problem doesn’t have an obvious cause, especially if there’s been a change in your bowel habits,” says Dr. Quinlan. “Your doctor will likely order a stool sample to send for analysis and a rectal exam may also be needed.” You should also visit your doctor if you have a torn rectum. This can cause sharp pain during bowel movements, followed by burning pain afterwards. Your doctor can prescribe medication to speed up up the cure.


“Diet, or eating something you don’t agree with, is the number one cause of bloating,” says Maher. “However, it can be a symptom of more serious problems like irritable bowel syndrome.” How to treat him in home: If you ate something that made you bloated, try drinking peppermint tea. Staying active can also help to get through the wind, so try taking a walk. See your doctor if … the swelling is persistent or there are other warning signs like extreme pain, bleeding or diarrhea,” says Maher. “Weight loss is another issue to be aware of,” adds Dr. Quinlan. “Swelling can be a symptom of ovarian cancer.”


“Some people have naturally low blood pressure and suffer from postural hypertension, which means they feel dizzy if they stand up. up very fast,” says Maher. “Other possible causes of dizziness range from dehydration to excess caffeine, anemia, ear problems or dizziness.” How to treat him in home: “If you have postural hypertension, you have to learn to take care of yourself by getting up slowly, with support or in a secure environment,” says Maher. See your doctor if…suddenly you start having spells of dizziness, if they happen frequently, if they are persistent or if they are accompanied by vision problems.


“Cough is usually part of a viral cold,” says Dr. Quinlan. “It’s relatively minor and should resolve in three to four weeks.” How to treat him in home: Ask your pharmacist to recommend a cough syrup. Steam mops, extra fluids and steam inhalation can also help speed recovery. See your doctor if… “Your cough is persistent or you are coughing up blood,” says Dr. Quinlan. “If your cough is accompanied by chest pain, this also requires attention as it may be a symptom of heart illness.”

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