When to see a doctor for common health problems amid pandemic
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In the early days of the lockdown, most doctors and hospitals switched to online consultations, which patients could avail of, from the safety of their homes. Since then, many doctors have resumed clinic visits, leaving many to wonder whether taking the risk of a physical visit can result in more timely diagnosis and better health outcomes. Experts share a quick checklist of when it’s okay to avail online consultations and when you really should get yourself checked out by a doctor.

Overall well-being

1. Fever

One of the most common ailments, a fever with a body ache could probably mean a viral infection that will subside in a day or two, says Dr Salaah Qureshi, MD – internal medicine at Axis Hospital. He advises taking paracetamol tablets, up to three times a day, in consultation with a doctor. However, if you are experiencing other symptoms with the fever, such as a cough, sore throat, burning sensation while urinating, or an infected boil, you must see a doctor immediately.

2. Cough

Common causes for coughs range from allergies to acidity to serious conditions such as lung infections, says Dr Qureshi. While allergies can be treated with over-the-counter allergy medication or cough syrups, treating acidity can also help a cough. Serious coughs accompanied by a fever or breathlessness should be treated by a doctor.

3. Headaches

Most people who suffer chronic headaches already know what helps them. Simple medicines such as Crocin or Saridon can help. Avoiding bright light, loud sounds, and television and mobile screens is recommended. However, if you are experiencing vomiting with the headache, excessive drowsiness, or weakness, a doctor should be contacted immediately. Further, if the intensity of the headaches progressively deteriorates, medical attention must be sought.

4. Back and neck pain

These can be treated at home with a prescription given via a teleconsultation with a doctor. Using a hot compress, a massage, or practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation can help with minor headaches. Getting enough sleep and hot compress can elevate back and neck pain. For chronic and severe pain, seek the advice of a doctor says Dr Tushar Rane, internal medicine expert at Apollo Spectra Hospital.

5. Diarrhoea

Most loose motions are viral by origin and settle spontaneously, says Dr Qureshi. If you are experiencing a couple of episodes of diarrhoea per day, consume probiotics and increase your hydration levels with an oral rehydration solution. Antibiotics are usually not needed. However, excessive loose motions with vomiting leading to severe weakness needs attention from a doctor.

6. Diabetes and thyroid problems

If you are already taking medication for diabetes or thyroid, any adjustments can be done via a teleconsultation with your physician, says Dr Vikrant Shah, a consulting physician at Zen Multispecialty Hospital.

Gynaecological ailments

1. Tenderness in the breasts

Dr Vaishali Joshi, a senior obstetrician and gynaecologist at Kokilaben Hospital, says that this condition can be very distressing and make women fearful about the possibility of breast cancer. However, this is usually associated with hormonal issues and is rarely indicative of cancer. She recommends a monthly self-examination of the breasts to rule out lumps or bumps. Try to determine whether the tenderness or pain follows a pattern related to your period cycle. This will confirm hormonal issues or pre-menstrual symptoms. If the pain is debilitating, she recommends taking paracetamol.

2. Midcycle spotting

Some women may experience spotting or light bleeding which may last for a day or two. This is known to occur at the time of ovulation. Mark this event on your calendar and cross-check this with your gynaecologist during your next visit. Do not panic. However, if you are consistently experiencing bleeding a few days after the end of your periods or spotting 5-6 days prior to your expected period date, it is important to consult the doctor for examination and possibly, sonography of your pelvis. Bleeding after sex should not be ignored and urgent medical advice must be taken says Dr Joshi.

3. Burning sensation while passing urine

This, says Dr Joshi, can be an early sign of a urine infection. Increase your oral fluid intake to at least 3-3.5 litres a day. Don’t hold your urine for a long time. Include coconut water, cranberry juice, or barley water in your diet. Avoid sexual activity until the problem is resolved. If you still do not experience relief, seek medical attention.

Dental concerns

1. Tooth pain

The severity of most toothaches progresses gradually. To prevent discomfort, rinse your mouth with lukewarm water to which some salt has been added, recommends Dr Karishma Jaradi, head dental surgeon at Dentzz Dental. This removes excess food particles that are stuck to your enamel. Floss regularly. If the discomfort does not subside, try a salt water rinse – a natural disinfectant, this can help to reduce inflammation and heal any oral wounds.

2. Cavity irritation

Mis clove oil in a little lukewarm water. Dip a cotton ball into this solution and squeeze. Gradually apply this to the affected region for about 30 to 40 minutes, says Dr Jaradi.

3. Bleeding gums

This condition is typically caused by harsh brushing habits, using a toothbrush with hard bristles, or other oral injuries. Treat this by dipping a teabag in water and gently pressing this over the bleeding area. Accompany with frequent salt water rinses.

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Focus on your mental health

Dr Payal Sharma, a psychiatrist at Rekindle Mind Clinic, recommends a psychiatric evaluation if you are experiencing the following:

  1. You find it difficult to cope with and function in your daily life

  2. You cannot control your emotions or your temper

  3. Your sleeping pattern changes

  4. You have erratic mood swings

  5. You use substances such as nicotine, alcohol, or other drugs to cope with stress

  6. You think frequently about harming yourself

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