While it might be convenient to make an appointment for the same day for an annual physical, this may not necessarily be realistic nor the best plan of action for you. Having a productive annual visit generally means that you have laboratory or other screening tests prior to seeing your provider. Conversely, sometimes it is not necessary to go straight to the doctor when you come down with a cold. Viral upper respiratory infections often run their course with little more intervention than rest, fluids, and some over-the-counter medications. However, there are situations when you should have a same-day appointment. There are also certain symptoms that require an emergency room visit.
When Should I Have a Same Day Appointment?
There are many instances when people will call the doctor for advice over the phone, when they should really be seen in person. While a great deal of information can be retrieved from a conversation with your doctor, there are times when he or she needs to evaluate you before ordering tests or treatments. The following list is not all-inclusive, but reviews a few of the more common complaints that require an office visit.
Upper Respiratory Symptoms
When your have had a cold for about 5 days and the symptoms are not getting better, or are worsening, it is probably time to see your doctor. This is especially true if you are running a fever. You may need an antibiotic. On the other hand, you might not. Sometimes a cough and shortness of breath may be caused by bronchitis, or could be as serious as heart problems. Your doctor will not be able to determine this over the phone, and having a family practitioner that can see you the same day may save you a trip to the emergency room or to urgent care.
Pain or Difficulty Urinating
Often times, problems urinating can be the result of a urinary tract infection (UTI). The first line of treatment for this is usually increasing your fluid intake and giving your body a few days to fight the infection. However, if the symptoms persist, you may need a urine culture to determine what is causing the problem, because an untreated UTI can lead to complications. These symptoms can also be caused by other illnesses, including certain sexually transmitted infections. Additionally, they may be consistent with
postmenopausal syndromes in women, or prostate problems in men.
A Fall Resulting in Pain or Swelling
The older you are, the more concerning a fall may be. And while the treatment for a traumatic injury that causes swelling is RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation), it is usually a good idea to have your primary care provider evaluate you. In the event that they find a fracture or significant injury to a joint, he or she can refer you to a specialist for further treatment.
Vomiting, Diarrhea, or Severe Abdominal Pain Lasting Longer than a Few Days
Viral gastroenteritis or even food poisoning is something that most younger, healthy people will recover from in a few days, but if you are not improving after 3 days of rest along with a bland diet and drinking fluids, it is time to see your primary care doctor. If you are running a fever, it is even more important to be evaluated. First of all, you may need to have a few tests to find the cause of these symptoms. Additionally, vomiting and diarrhea causes loss of both fluids and electrolytes, which can lead to more problems. This is especially true with the young, the old, and the chronically ill; so making a same-day appointment would be in your best interest.
Bloody or Black Stools
Stools with bright red blood may well be from hemorrhoids, however, if accompanied by other symptoms such as abdominal cramping or diarrhea, it can be more serious. Additionally, even if it is hemorrhoids, chronic blood loss can cause anemia. If you are experiencing black stools, it could be an indication that you have bleeding somewhere higher in your gastrointestinal system – which runs from your esophagus to your anus. Seeing your primary care provider is an important first step to determine if and why you are bleeding internally.
When Should I Go to the Emergency Room?
Even if you do have a primary care provider that offers same-day appointments, there are times when you should bypass the office and go straight to the emergency room. While this is not an exhaustive list, the following are clear indications for emergency room care. Chest pain, especially if it is associated with activity, could indicate you are having a heart attack. Other symptoms to look for in this situation would be neck, shoulder or arm pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness. If you feel palpitations, which can be a feeling of your heart beating fast and hard, or of having skipped beats, you should be evaluated in the emergency room, especially if you are feeling weak, lightheaded, dizzy, or are having chest pain. If you are feeling short of breath or are wheezing, the emergency room is the best place to be evaluated. Additionally, any time you have any neurological changes, such as confusion, dizziness, severe headaches, weakness, difficulty talking or swallowing, or an uneven smile, you should be taken to the emergency room or call 911. This would include whether the changes came on spontaneously, or after you had a head injury. In fact, any severe trauma, including a head injury should be evaluated in the emergency room.
Advanced Medical has caring and attentive medical staff, who are committed to providing quality health care to all their patients. They believe in continuity in primary care, and are available for same-day appointments. Call today at (561) 434-1935 to schedule an appointment, or book an appointment online.