When we are faced with a tickle in our throats or a runny nose, we often resort to popular home remedies and perhaps a day or two of rest and relaxation away from school or work. Resting and drinking plenty of liquids is usually a good response to these minor symptoms and sicknesses; however, the COVID-19 virus and the flu are now a huge part of our global healthcare sphere. With the initial symptoms of both of these very serious viruses being similar to those of the common cold, it is increasingly important not to brush a cough or a sneeze under the rug.

Simultaneously, we know that in 2021, medical providers and healthcare facilities across the board are extremely overworked and understaffed in the United States. It is quite common for patients to try to ease their burden and not intensify the workloads of these healthcare workers. There are high infection rates nationwide and physicians are attempting to prioritize those who are the most ill and require close medical care and attention; however, we must be diligent and purposeful in our actions as patients. Knowing that our common cold symptoms could be indicative of a much more serious illness in the near future, it is important to take good care of ourselves and to maintain a stable bill of health.

If a cough last longer than two weeks, this information should be conveyed to your primary care provider. Earaches and painful swallowing are also symptoms that signify more than just a common cold. Along with these red flags is vomiting that persists over a few days and fevers that persists and do not decrease in temperature after a few days.

Headaches are a common pain for many of us. These can be stress induced, caused by a lack of hydration, or by hunger; however, some headaches can be indicators of a serious medical situation that a physician should be aware of. If you begin to realize that your headaches are increasing in intensity or frequency, you should reach out to you doctor’s office for an appointment.

Among digestive issues, there are several that are a warning sign for increased medical concern. Heartburn, although quite common, should only be treated as such if it is alleviated rather quickly with the help of over-the-counter medications. A persistently sore throat, nausea, vomiting blood or bile (green), or constipation are all among digestion related symptoms that cannot be treated by a patient at home and require a professional’s opinion and possibly prescription medication. Diarrhea is also a sign that a doctor should be involved in a sickness. After several days, this can result in intense dehydration, fatigue, nutrient depletion, and abdominal pains.

Lastly, there are some injurious symptoms that can only be dealt with the proper attention from a medical professional. Some of these injuries include constant back pain, pain that spread down a patient’s legs, numbness and weakness, swelling and redness, and pain in addition to an unexplained loss of significant weight. Head injuries combined with dizziness, loss of balance, confusion, an inability to concentrate, foggy vision, sleeping issues, or changes in one’s mood are all worrisome and should be taken seriously with the proper medical care.

Finally, many cardiac related medical issues show symptoms relating to a patient’s breathing and blood pressure. If you are experiencing shivering or shaking, shortness of breath, pain on one side of your chest, or an expedited heart rate, you should call your doctor immediately and seek their care.

It is difficult to diagnose patients without a professional; therefore, it is extremely important that if you are experiencing any of these symptoms for a few days to make an appointment with your primary care physician. If they have no appointments readily available, do not hesitate to go to an urgent care. Urgent care facilities have access to many of the tools and technologies that hospitals have. Additionally, urgent care visits tend to be much faster than your regular doctor’s office or emergency room. If all else fails, remember to take yourself to the emergency room or dial 911 as soon as possible for care. When in doubt, get medical help immediately.