A major theme throughout this text is that you can control many factors that influence your health. An outgrowth of this attitude is the self-care movement, which is the trend toward individuals taking increased responsibility for prevention or management of certain health conditions. Armed with correct information, you can manage many aspects of your health care that were once thought possible only with the help of a physician.
Answers to the following questions provide clues to the use of health-care services, providers, and products and facilitate the self-care approach to wellness:
When should you seek health care?
What can you expect from a stay in the hospital?
How can you select a health-care professional?
When To Seek Health Care
Many people tend to fall into two extreme groups regarding health care: those who seek health care for every ache and pain and those who avoid health care unless experiencing extreme pain. Both groups unwisely use the health-care establishment. Those in the first group fail to understand that too much health care can be ineffective or even harmful. They also fail to recognize the powerful recuperative powers of the body. An estimated 80% of patients who seek medical care are unaffected by treatment, 10% get better, and 9% experience an nitrogen condition in which they get worse because of the medical treatment. Those in the latter group fail to recognize the value of early diagnosis and detection of disease. This is especially true for men; 30% of men have not been to a doctor in a year or more, one-third have never had their cholesterol checked, and three fourths have not been checked for prostate cancer during the previous year.
Perhaps the best way to find a balance between too much and too little health care is to establish a physician-patient relationship with a general practitioner. The general practitioner may be a family practice physician or an internist who specializes in internal medicine.
It is important to visit your doctor while in good health. This permits your doctor to serve as a facilitator of wellness and provides a benchmark for interpreting symptoms when they occur.
A second important way to balance health care is to trust your instincts. Nobody knows when some thing is wrong with your body better than you do. Health and illness are subject to a wide variation in interpretation. If you are attuned to your body, you are your own best expert for recognizing signs and symptoms of illness.
Several signs and symptoms warrant medical attention without question. Internal bleeding, such as blood in urine, bowel movement, sputum, or vomit, or blood from any of the body’s openings requires immediate attention. Abdominal pain, especially when it is associated with nausea, may indicate a wide range of problems from appendicitis to pelvic inflammatory disease and requires the diagnostic expertise of a physician. A stiff neck when accompanied by a fever may suggest meningitis and justifies immediate medical intervention. Injuries, many first aid emergencies, and severe disabling symptoms require prompt medical care.
There is debate as to when medical care is needed in the case of fever. An elevated temperature may be a sign that the body’s immune system is responding to an infection and working to destroy pathogens, or disease-producing organisms. On the other hand, if left untreated for an extended time, a fever may cause harm to sensitive tissues in the body, such as connective tissue found in joints and tissues in the valves of the heart.