Taking Care: When To Call A Provider

What should you do about these symptoms? A sore throat lasting for 2 days? An earache? A burn on your hand? Practicing self-care is having the information you need to make an informed decision about whether to go to the doctor, emergency room or to treat yourself at home for common health symptoms. Health care costs affect your finances, from your share of health insurance premiums to your out-of-pocket co-pays, deductibles and prescriptions.

So how can you empower yourself to know when to treat common ailments at home and when to seek medical attention? The answer is to practice self-care. We all keep hearing about the high cost of health care, but did you know that a large part of the rising costs are due to doctor and ER visits that are unnecessary? According to the CDC, 55.4% of ER visits are for non-urgent conditions and 25% of office based physician visits are unnecessary.

There are several self-care resources to help you decide the right thing to do including:

  • 24-Hour Nurseline Service – Many health plans have a toll-free number that allows you to speak to a nurse at any hour of the day.
  • Self-Care Books such as the Healthwise Handbook and Mayo Clinic’s Guide to Self-Care, are reference books that allow you to look up hundreds of common health symptoms.
  • Online Websites
  • Symptom Checker Apps to download – iTriage, SymptomMD, or A.D.A.M. Symptom Navigator.

Self-care is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, it is for informational purposes, only to allow you to do as much for yourself as you can, ask for the health care you need, and to question the care that may not be right for you.