What not to do if you suspect symptoms of a health problem

*contributed collaborative post

You’re minding your own business, then one day you wake up and feel a bit strange. Maybe your throat starts feeling a bit sore, perhaps you suddenly feel dizzy, or maybe you’ve got a persistent headache? All of these things (and more) could be symptoms of a health problem. The keyword is ‘could’ – they could also be nothing to worry about at all. 

Keeping that in mind, what should you do if you suspect you’ve got the symptoms of a health problem? Well, the next steps to take are actually pretty simple – see a doctor, get some tests, receive a diagnosis. In reality, you should focus on what you shouldn’t do if you suspect you have symptoms. So many people make mistakes in this regard, so here’s what not to do:

Overreact

When you notice changes in your body or mind, the instinctive thing to do is overreact. Right away, you jump to the worst possible conclusion and it becomes fixated in your mind that you now have a deadly illness. Instead, you should remain calm and avoid freaking out. A good idea is to perhaps leave some time before you react to the situation – if the symptoms still persist within a few days/a week, then you should take more direct action and contact a doctor. 

Over-Google

Google is both your friend and foe when you have some symptoms. It’s normal to search for your symptoms online, giving you an idea as to what they could mean. Sometimes, you find that your symptoms are nothing to worry about. Other times, all sorts of conditions come up, sending your mind into a frenzy. The worst thing you can do is spend too much time on Google looking at what your symptoms mean. Have an initial look if you want, but don’t use the internet to diagnose yourself. It can be helpful in knowing what potential problems you might have, but over-Googling is a recipe for disaster. 

Accept one opinion

Yes, you should absolutely book to see your doctor if the symptoms have persisted for a week or so. During your consultation, they will listen to your symptoms, run a few tests, and possibly book you in for more tests. After which, you’d like to assume they can provide you with a diagnosis. In many instances, you will take this diagnosis as the law, assuming that you most certainly have whatever they told you you have. 

Blue and Gray Stethoscope

However, this isn’t always a good thing to do. While doctors are professionally trained and want to do what’s best for patients, some can make mistakes. Talk to any top medical malpractice lawyers and they’ll tell you that misdiagnosis is far more common than you think. Doctors might miss something and put you on a treatment plan for a condition you don’t actually have, making the real problem get worse as it goes untreated. This can be avoided by getting more than one professional opinion – see multiple doctors, look at what they all say, then you have a more accurate view of the situation. If everyone you go to says you have the same problem, it’s safe to assume you have it! Or, they could all say there’s nothing wrong with you – seeing doctors and getting tests done won’t always mean you have a health issue. 

Ignore the symptoms

You absolutely should not ignore the symptoms you start having. Yes, it has been mentioned a couple of times that you may not want to react straight away. This is because, if you wake up with some symptoms one day, they could go away the next! Or, you might just have a cold that lasts for a couple of days, so it’s pointless bothering a doctor with something like this. 

Here, you’re not ignoring the symptoms, you’re just waiting to see if they linger. If you have had a headache for a week straight, you need to get it checked out. If you have started losing weight rapidly for a month, you need to see someone about it. Don’t get into the habit of ignoring your symptoms or pushing them to the back of your mind. Make a note of them, monitor them for a few days, then react if they still persist. 

Understanding symptoms is the key to spotting health problems before they get out of hand. So, if you wake up one day and feel a bit off, don’t do all of the things mentioned above. Instead, you should keep an eye on the symptoms, maybe do some minor research, then contact your doctor if they have stayed for longer than a week. After getting tests and a diagnosis, seek out a second opinion to see if everything matches up. 

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