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10 Ways To Know Whether To Wait It Out Or Call 911

Updated: Jan 16

Okay, we’ve all been there before—we are sitting comfortably, relaxed and all of a sudden, out of the blue, we get some physical symptom. Then our brain locks in on it and the downhill spiral of fear and anxiety begins. Should I call the doctor? Should I go to the hospital? Should I call 911?

Maybe you just brush it off, but don’t you know, it starts popping up again and then you start really getting nervous. You don’t want to overreact, but you don’t want to ignore something either.

Well the nervousness, even panic, you experience originates as your brain detects some danger (real or imagined; conscious or subconscious). These feelings result from the only way our brains know how to protect us from danger: fight or flee it. But you probably have nothing to fight and you can’t run away from yourself (i.e. flee). The reaction (panic, anxiety, general nervousness) thus causes physical symptoms, which your brain also detects as potential danger, now causing your brain to fight or flee some more; thus, perpetuating the cycle.

So how do you know when to be concerned, or when to just chill, watch, and ride it out?

Here are 10 helpful benchmarks. These are what I use in my practice to determine whether or not a problem truly exists. Please keep in mind that these are not foolproof, so always consult your own doctor.

I suggest seeking medical attention if symptoms are:

  1. Increasing in frequency—occurring more often

  2. Increasing in duration—lasting longer

  3. Increasing in severity—becoming more intense

  4. Brand new for you

  5. Establishing a clear cause and effect pattern

  6. Interfering with your regular activities

  7. Causing pain greater than a five on a scale of a 1 – 10 where 10 is the worst

  8. Associated with bleeding

  9. Associated with a fever

  10. Associated with a palpable mass

Certainly if you have any doubt you should consult a healthcare professional. However, these ten indicators may help to reel in your fear, so the symptoms related to the fear itself, in other words the fight-or-flight reaction, won’t make matters worse.

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