August 2017
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05:08:27 am

When To See A Doctor

Almost half of older adults take some type of over-the-counter medication to treat common ailments. If you are doing this, how do you know this is the right option or when to see a doctor? Let's face it. No one has the time to run to the doctor for every runny nose or aching muscle, but it can do more harm than good to rely on over-the-counter medicines for everything.

In certain situations, over-the-counter meds can actually mask symptoms or make your condition worse. Here are some strategies to use when you are trying to decide when to see a doctor:

You are congested, phlegmy and have a runny nose

For this, you can try taking an over-the-counter medication and ride out the cold. Try a cold medicine with an antihistamine which will help dry out your nasal passages and a decongestant which will open your airways. Also, drink lots of fluids, especially water. If you do visit the doctor, they may prescribe a Z-Pak (six tablets of azithromycin), but if you have a cold, these will not be effective since they work against bacterial infections, not viruses.

You are taking over-the-counter medications for acid reflux almost every night, but the burn returns with every meal. This condition should be diagnosed by a doctor. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are the drugs which reduce stomach acid. If you are taking these and they are not effective against your heartburn after two weeks, you should visit the doctor.

Taking PPIs for more than two weeks continuously can impact your body's ability to absorb calcium. This could put you at potential risk for bone fractures. No over-the-counter PPI should be taken more than 14 days straight within a four month time period.

Doctors in Germantown, Maryland may refer you to a gastroenterologist if your symptoms persist, but it is important to see a primary care physician as soon as possible to determine if there is a more serious, underlying condition.

You exercised a lot yesterday and your leg muscles are aching today

This is a time when you do not need to do anything, except allow your muscles to recover. Be aware that taking an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen as a way of powering through today's workout may backfire. Research shows that runners taking ibuprofen before and while racing as a means of reducing soreness, actually experienced more inflammation and aching.

The best thing to do as you recover from a strenuous workout is to eat fruits, fish, and vegetables. These are foods which are rich in omega-3s and flavonoids, both natural anti-inflammatories. If you want immediate relief, try icing the area three times daily for 15 to 20 minutes. This can help reduce soreness. If your discomfort lasts more than a week, this is when to see a doctor to rule out any injury.

About the Author:

Shirley C. Dudley writes about primary care in Germantown, MD. For more information about when to see a doctor, contact Germantown Primary Care at 301-528-7110

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