I’ve been in nursing for over 28 years and over the years many of my patients have questioned me on how to know when they should see a physician. I think that many of them are confused as to whether there are some guidelines that they should follow as to when to watch and wait, as well as when to immediately see a medical doctor.
I have always tried to be honest with my patients about their medical care options and have insisted that when in doubt they should always see a medical professional. However as to any guidelines to follow they are really quite simple:
Does the condition bother you in any way? Is there any pain, burning, itching, etc? If the problem you are having is bothersome in any way you should see a physician. Many times patients will come in to see a physician and say that they have been having some burning or pain for quite some time however they thought it would just go away. However my response to them is that they should come anytime they feel any pain or problem since waiting may only exacerbate the problem and cause them prolong any treatment they may need.
Is there any fever, swelling, discharge, etc? To put it simply anything apart from the norm is considered abnormal and should be seen, especially when it comes to your health. Doctors and medical professionals such as myself are there to help you with any medical problem that you have. If a patient comes in with a minor problem that is okay, any medical professional would much rather you come in than stay at home and not receive treatment for something until it is much worse.
In fact treating medical conditions as early as possible is always recommended for the best outcome. As well as many medical conditions even severe problems such as many cancers can often go undetected for a long time because they have little to no symptoms and the patient may overlook them until they are in an advanced stage.
It is for this reason that watching and waiting on any medical condition is ill advised. Now many times many conditions such as “Type Two Diabetes” may be treated at first with diet restrictions and exercise, especially when borderline. However the watch and wait is still not a real option you must try to lower your blood sugar with the diet and exercise but if the sugar in your blood does not decrease you may have to be treated with diabetes medications to lower your blood sugar.
Other conditions where your medical physician may say we are going to watch and wait can consist of minor surgical issues such as possibly a acute case of tonsillitis or “secretory otitis media”, which is an ear infection. Most physicians will treat medical conditions such as these and watch and wait to see if the medicine takes care of the condition before they will recommend surgery, especially if you have no history of these conditions in the past.
The standard of watching and waiting therefore largely depends on the medical problem, as well as it is always the patients personal choice. As a nurse I always recommend that if you have “any” medical issue you should see your physician to be properly diagnosed and treated and then if the physician decides to recommend watching and waiting before proceeding with any further treatment that is up to him. Many times medications and treatment options have to be used for quite a while before the patient starts to get any relief and watching and waiting is all they can do in the mean time.
In a final note it is best to always see a physician if you notice any medical problem. I also tell patients that if your concerned about any medical problem seeing your medical professional is what they are there for and if your in doubt you should always at least call them. I am always happy to talk to any of my patients at anytime and make sure they get the care they need.
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