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Typically, we go to the doctor for two main reasons: to treat an illness or to prevent one from occurring.
When we’re faced with symptoms that don’t respond to basic self-care strategies, we usually seek expert medical care. We do this in order to better understand our symptoms so we can make an informed decision about how to respond. Consulting with medical professionals gives us additional information to make these kinds of decisions.
And on the other end of the spectrum, we also seek routine care to ward off preventable illnesses before they manifest. We undergo testing and screenings that can identify risks factors that often lead to the development of future medical conditions. This kind of medical care gives us an opportunity to adjust our behaviors and lifestyle habits to reduce those risks.
But knowing when to seek medical attention can be a challenge. A study in 2011 found that 42% of primary care physicians in the US believe patients are receiving too much care. It seems we often seek treatment for non-issues. Yet, on the other hand, we all know someone who has gone to the doctor for a routine exam, only to find there is a much more serious underlying condition.
There is no simple rule of thumb when it comes to knowing when to seek care; it’s something we must all decide for ourselves.
Establishing a trusted relationship with a primary care physician is a critical piece of a comprehensive self-care plan. Staying well is a team effort. While each of us is responsible for making our own health-related decisions, we can make better decisions when we surround ourselves by a competent care team.
Who is on your care team?