As cold and flu season nears and COVID-19 continues to spread, you may wonder what to do if you or a family member begins to feel sick and experience symptoms like a fever, cough and/or difficulty breathing.
You may be tempted to go to the hospital emergency department or wait it out at home, hoping you’ll feel better soon. However, to help prevent the spread of germs, you should avoid the emergency department at your local hospital except in the event of an emergency.
When you don’t feel well, the best thing to do first is contact your primary care physician, right from your house.
You Don’t Have to Leave Home to See Your Doctor
If you or a family member doesn’t feel well, call your doctor’s office or do a video visit with your doctor through the AdventHealth app. You can access it via a mobile device, such as a tablet or smartphone.
9 Reasons to Visit Your Doctor Virtually if You Don’t Feel Well
Here are nine reasons why calling your doctor from home or scheduling a telehealth visit is the best first step if you’re not feeling well.
1. You Can Receive Personalized Medical Advice About Your Symptoms
A phone call or video visit can provide your doctor with the details needed to make an informed medical decision about the care you need. You won’t have to leave home when you’re not feeling well and deal with traffic, parking or bad weather.
If you’re at risk for COVID-19 or the flu and your symptoms are mild, you may be able to recover at home. Your doctor can prescribe medications you may need. If your symptoms seem more serious, your doctor can advise you on next steps based on what you’re experiencing and your overall health status.
2. You May Face a Higher Risk of Severe Illness
Contacting your doctor soon after you experience symptoms is especially important if you’re age 65 or older, or if you have an underlying health condition, such as lung disease, diabetes or heart disease.
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people older than 65 and those of any age with an underlying medical condition are at highest risk for serious illness from coronavirus and influenza.
The CDC’s list of underlying medical conditions includes:
Chemotherapy or radiation for cancer (currently or in the past)
Chronic kidney disease that requires dialysis
Chronic lung disease or asthma
Cirrhosis of the liver
Congestive heart failure or coronary artery disease
Extreme obesity with a body mass index of 40 or more
Lack of a spleen or a spleen that doesn’t function properly
Neurologic conditions that weaken the ability to cough
Sickle cell anemia
Weakened immune system
The list also includes pregnancy and pertains to anyone of any age.
3. You Could Be Contagious and Infect Others if You Leave the House
Coronavirus and the flu are contagious. According to the CDC, both are thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
If an infected person coughs or sneezes, droplets in the air can travel to others. If you’re feeling sick and leave your house, even for medical care, you could infect others who may have compromised immune systems in the emergency department or doctor’s office.
4. A Phone Call or Video Chat Can Help You Be Proactive
If you feel sick, calling your doctor or scheduling a telemedicine visit can help your doctor determine the care you will need to monitor your condition and prevent it from developing into something more serious.
But an early call or virtual visit with your doctor helps you stay ahead of symptoms. Even if your symptoms are mild, your doctor may advise you to be monitored in the hospital if you have an underlying medical condition, such as heart disease or diabetes.
5. You Can Save Precious Time
Instead of traveling to the doctor’s office when you’re not feeling well and waiting for your appointment, you’ll have your doctor’s attention from the comfort of your own home — right on your phone.
Because telemedicine visits are visual, most of the time you spend with your doctor will be face to face. Through the AdventHealth app, you and your doctor can access your medical records and coordinate your care efficiently.
6. You Can Prepare for Your Visit
If you first call your doctor or have a virtual visit, and your doctor advises you to come in, you’ll know it’s the right thing to do. By consulting with your doctor first, you’ll also have the chance to better prepare for an office or emergency department visit.
The medical staff can advise you where to go and what to do to help prevent others in the waiting room from being exposed to your symptoms.
7. You Might Save Yourself a Trip
If your symptoms are mild, your doctor may advise you to stay home. According to the CDC, people who are mildly ill with coronavirus are able to recover at home. Moreover, your symptoms may be something else, such as a cold or flu.
If your doctor tells you to stay home, try to stay away from other people as much as possible.
To keep your home safe, limit your contact with people, especially vulnerable household members older than 65 or with underlying medical conditions. Wash your hands often. Regularly disinfect surfaces, such as handrails, tables and doorknobs. Encourage everyone in your home to do the same.
9. You’ll Know Whether You Should Go to the ER
Are your symptoms serious enough to warrant calling 911? Should you go to the emergency department? To help prevent the spread of germs, you should avoid the emergency department at your local hospital except in the event of an emergency.
Call 911 if you or a loved one experience symptoms like:
Bluish lips or face
Feeling confused or not being able to be awakened
Inability to breathe easily
Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
When you call 911, tell the operator what you’re experiencing. Otherwise, with worsening symptoms that don’t seem life-threatening, the best thing to do is call your primary care physician first. With a phone call or virtual visit, your doctor can advise you on what to do next.