General Question

Jeruba's avatar

Where are you turning right now for medical advice, if you can't or don't want to visit your doctor's office?

Asked by Jeruba (55853points) July 23rd, 2020

Your own knowledge? a friend or relative in the medical field? a book? the Internet? TV talk shows? gossip?

Not the president, I hope.

Yesterday I heard a guy receiving optical advice from the counter man at the tire store.

The dilemma of weighing the proper guidance on a present condition against the risk of exposure to something more has always been there in a medical setting, but it’s heightened now.

How do you feel about this? Do you think we’ve habitually been too casual about seeing a doctor for every little thing, and now we have to be more judicious? or, on the other hand, are we letting things go that should be treated, or risking bad effects from amateur diagnoses and treatments?

Do you find yourself wishing you had a village shaman?

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52 Answers

janbb's avatar

Interesting. I did go for an eye exam recently and then was referred to an eye surgeon for cataract surgery. I was very comfortable in my eye doctor’s office with the precautions, a little less so in the surgeon’s.

I was told by a friend that my GP is not requiring mask wearing in his office and I canceled a routine medical visit there. If I were really sick, I would have to go or consult on the phone.

On the other hand, I am looking for medical advice on what precautions to take while on a long car ride with a friend and I don’t feel I really have any authoritative figure to ask.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I’m not in need of any as it is now and take no prescribed meds.
For diabetes, I buy my insulin outright and manage my doses. I don’t take drugs for MS so the only time I’d need a doc is for tests that I want like kidney function.
I’m in no rush to get that so outside of an emergency, no need.
The chiropractor is another story. If I couldn’t get in there, I’d be bumming .I’ve got some neck problems that he has helped me with. but I’ve been able to see him, no problem

zenvelo's avatar

I am dealing with some cardio issues that arose in February. Since June 1 I have had a half dozen in person appointments, and one telemedicine call. I got tested on Tuesday for Covid as a pre procedure check before a stress test tomorrow. So I have been comfortable going to doctors.

But for more routine non emergency stuff, I rely more on friends I know who are somewhat knowledgeable. I certainly don’t follow advice from strangers. I barely take advice on tires from the guy at the tire store, let alone something to do with my health.

janbb's avatar

I’d like to add that if I could have Dr. Fauci as my personal physician, I’d be very happy.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

I rely on myself. My new doctor is amazing. She’ll order prescriptions on my say so.

jca2's avatar

I have an appointment Monday for my annual physical with my general practitioner. I take one medication and he prescribes it once a year. I went to the dentist right before the shut down (coincidentally) and am going again in two weeks. I am going to the eye doctor for my annual check up in September. I got my mammogram in the winter, too. Luckily I have not had any emergencies or anything come up in the past few months. If I had questions about something, I could call my doctor and I have friends who are RN’s and I could ask them.

canidmajor's avatar

Short of a dramatic emergency, I won’t be going into a doctor’s office for quite a while.
Anyth8ng like that is way out of my comfort zone.

lastexit's avatar

I recently went to my dentist to have my teeth cleaned and my eye doctor for my yearly exam. I called first to make sure they were taking proper precautions. Both took all necessary precautions and I felt comfortable. My doctor is not seeing patients, but you can set up an appointment on zoom. I had a minor emergency so I called him and he sent me to a walk in clinic. The clinic also took necessary precautions up to and including giving you a new mask and taking your temperature.

I think we just have to exercise common sense and listen to the real experts such as Dr. Fauci to make a determination on when, how and where we should seek medical advice.

Jeruba's avatar

My husband is in fragile condition, and right now his ailments seem to be snowballing. I think there’s a cumulative effect of some kind and possibly some bad interactions among meds that are piling up. Virtual doctor visits really don’t seem sufficient.

I am no nurse. I’m an English major, fgs, and I never thought I’d have to know about dressings, wound care, ointments, needles, allergic reactions, O2 tanks, analgesic patches, nutritional deficiencies, etc., etc. I’m coping as best I can while trying to manage my own conditions.

I really don’t know how best to balance all our concerns, but I can tell you that hospitals and care facilities are way, way down on the preferences list. It helps me to know other people’s experiences.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I have been to the doctor in the last month, he has a person stationed at the LOCKED DOOR. They come out and take your temp and tell to remember it, when you go to the history station in the office, where they fake your other Vital Signs.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

I was scheduled for my first mammogram, ever, in May. Then the shit hit the fan and we lost our insurance and our income.

janbb's avatar

@Jeruba If you have a GP or pulmonary specialist managing his case, I think you could call and ask what precautions they are taking. I would feel fairly confident going to a doctor’s office in a situation like yours where you really need it.

I would feel the benefits outweigh the risk in such a dire situation.

My DIL is a nurse on the cardiac surgery floor at Stanford Medical and they have had very few COVID cases in the whole hospital and none on her floor.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Here during this pandemic out local Pharmacists are given permission to give to dispense advice and write out prescriptions as well as fill them ( prescriptions).

It save the hospital staff more time to devote to more serious ills.

I found that our Pharmacists are newly Educated and updated on new medicines and know quite a bit about interactions/ effects and how to offset them .

Saves time, money and addresses the problems right away.

They will advise if one needs to be admitted into the Hospital and can phone it in if one needs this assistance.

In one instance the Doctor on call gave me a prescription for medicine that were used for Cancer patients with dire effects for me for four days until I spoke to the Pharmacist who advised me to get off of them immediately!

I couldn’t even stand up at that point and after stopping I was well enough to get the proper medicine directly from the Pharmacist.

The illness was never returned as a result and I am uncertain of some Doctors as a result.

JLeslie's avatar

Same as always at this point for me, except, some appointments are video call/telemedicine. This is a gift. I have wanted this option for years. Initially when covid hit I avoided anything in person, but I can’t put it off forever. I think covid will be a serious concern at least two years. Cases are relatively low where I live.

I went to my cardiologist last week.

I went to the optometrist today. I’ll let you know if I come down with covid in the next 14 days. I think getting your eyes checked is one of the higher risk appointments and if it hadn’t been almost 2 years since my last and my husband can’t see well at all anymore with his glasses, I probably would have waited.

I need to go back to my dermatologist.

I would avoid the GP if possible. I feel that way even before covid. Sick, contagious people go to the GP. Maybe it’s safer now than ever before? Even people colds and flu aren’t allowed in.

I ask the office their protocol before I go and if they seem unconcerned I don’t go. The one office that dismissed my question (this was early on) their receptionist and nurse did not wear a mask. I was pretty annoyed. By contrast my dermatologist makes you wait outside the office. They take you in when they are ready for you. They schedule farther apart now so you rarely wait past your appointment time and you don’t run into a lot of patients in the office. They do all insurance info in the phone before the appointment. They don’t deal with payment at all in the office. When your appointment is over you walk out.

The optometrist said I can wait outside also if I prefer and they will call or text when ready. We didn’t do that, but they were fine with the Q and happy to accommodate.

You can wear a mask and shield for more protection assuming your doctor doesn’t need access to your face. I did that at the cardiologist. Or, an N95. I don’t have one.

I think a lot of people go to the doctor when unnecessary and doctors encourage it for the MONEY. My FIL just went to the office for test results and I’m pissed about it. He’s 80! It was completely unnecessary, it’s risky for him. I’m so tired of it. Doctors where I live have a large amount of Medicare patients and schedule patients every 2–3 months “because Medicare will pay it.” Fraud in my opinion, and disgraceful during a pandemic.

gondwanalon's avatar

I use “My Chart” to communicate with my doctors. I can ask questions, get refills and referrals.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I’ve been to my PCP several times during the pandemic for various things. They took my temp when I arrived. Everyone wore masks. They took me straight to the room. No one was in the waiting room.

I had to go to the ER in May. (or was it June?) They used all the expected precautions.

I had my eyes checked in early July. All the expected precautions were taken.

I’ve been to the dentist twice. That’s the only medical place where they didn’t take my temperature at the entrance.

My psychologist and psychiatrist now see me by telemedicine.

This is Hawaii. They take my temp when I arrive at work. Everybody wears a mask. Nobody complains.

By the way, don’t come visit. All incoming people, visitors and returning residents alike, have a mandatory 2 week quarantine. It’s held up in court. We don’t want you right now.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

@Inspired_2write pharmacists are not “newly educated.” They have to earn a 4 year degree to become a pharmacist. Their focus is on drugs. They know more about the effects of drugs than the doctors. It’s always been that way.

SEKA's avatar

We aren’t having to see a doctor right now. Not sure where I’d start if we did. My bestie’s hubby has cancer and his doctor is doing all his consultation by phone/zoom/ or whatever to get a general idea of what is wrong with him. My friend is taking his temp, checking his blood pressure and his O2 level. Then the doctor sends in his scripts to be picked up at the pharmacy. So far, everything that he’s needed has been able to be handled over the phone. I’d feel safer doing it that way than having to go into the doc’s office at this time. For me, I prefer to more natural route. I may be sorry some day, but I normally use herbs and essential oils to keep anything wrong with me at a distance. When in doubt as to which oil works best for my needs, I heed onto the internet and do some research on the more natural cures to use .

YARNLADY's avatar

I had another bout of cellulitis last month. Since this has happened twice before, an oncall doctor at Kaiser was able to handle it on the phone, asked questions and prescribed the same anti bacterial pills as before. They have my medical history online. It cleared up in a week.

I acted immediately when it happened because the last two times landed me in the ER because I waited several days.

YARNLADY's avatar

When my grandson loudly complained of chest pains and stomachache, crying and groaning and completely miserable, I took him to a local urgent care clinic. They immediately said “virus” sent us to the ER. By the time we got there, 20 minutes, his symptoms had subsided. They took our information and he was seen by a team of personnel. We were in the room for all of 15 minutes, and received a bill for $2,000. The insurance paid half, and we are disputing the whole thing. He had apparently has mild, but painful food poisoning.

While we were there, grandpa found his brother in his room crying. He said “I killed my brother because I didn’t wash my hands” His dad and grandpa both explained it doesn’t work that way.

Jeruba's avatar

@YARNLADY, what happened that caused you to go to the ER? and what early symptom did you recognize this time?

I’m becoming a great believer in both prevention and quick response to early warnings, but without specific experience it’s hard to know what’s a warning and what is just an overreaction.

Inspired_2write's avatar

I meant that they JUST recently Graduated from University.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Jeruba I started out with what I thought was an ear ache, pain and fever. The second day the side of my face in front of my ear started swelling and I started to feel sick. The third day I was very sick, high fever, face very swollen and red. I called my doctor and she sent me to the ER. My medical history is: diabetic, treated by diet and exercise, not insulin, and I take daily medications for high blood pressure and cholesterol, so considered high risk. I was admitted to the hospital for nearly a week.

The second time, I waited two days, and went to the ER on my own. They treated me there as out patient for several hours, and sent me home with meds.

si3tech's avatar

I call my doctor’s office, speak to his assistant who relays my question/nature of my problem to the doctor. Then one of them calls me back with instructions to A. have video chat with doctor, if dire B. I may need to come in to his office or the emergency room.

As an aside: I live in an area where number of cases rises daily by 300 to 500 cases.per day! and I wear mask when going in to grocery store and social distancing of course. Good hand washing always.

Jeruba's avatar

@YARNLADY, and that was cellulitis? What an experience. Does it recur in the same spot? That might be relevant for us too.

JLeslie's avatar

If you get repeated cellulitis and no evidence of a cut, sting, bite, or scratch, consider circulation problems if it has not been suggested before. You still need the antibiotic to treat, but wearing pressure stockings might help avoid a recurrence. Talk to your doctor about it of course.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Jeruba Yes, it’s always on the left side of my face in front of my ear. I believe it is associated with me scratching at small itching spots on my face. The infections were several years apart.

JLeslie's avatar

@YARNLADY I used to get it on my lower leg and foot if I had a bite or sting. I started making sure to soap those areas well in the shower, and when I have a scratch or bite in the area I immediately wipe alcohol on it, and I have not had cellulitis in over ten years. I don’t know for sure if it’s because of what I’m doing or not, but I thought you might want to know.

YARNLADY's avatar

@JLeslie Thank you, good advice. I’ve begun washing my face along with my hands.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Jesus I have a BAD case of shingles and I’m in agony. Any suggestions for reducing the pain?

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III Are you taking Valtrex for it? Or, some other antiviral? Valtrex works well for me to get rid of it.

Have you tried Tylenol for the pain? Assuming you can take Tylenol. Just remember don’t drink alcohol with Tylenol and don’t the Tylenol if you have any liver problems. I would think Tylenol works better than Ibuprofen for that type of pain.

If it’s really bad pain they can give you drugs like Neurotin. I don’t know all the nervous system drugs they prescribe for it.

My shingles is more of a really bad itch than pain so I’m
not very familiar with the pain drugs.

Does cool water or cool compresses help?

SEKA's avatar

@YARNLADY When I had a bout of cellulitis on my leg, the doc gave me a round of antibiotics along with the compression stockings. Right after everything closed down back in March, my leg looked like it was going to flare up again. I ordered some Tea Tree soap off Amazon & began washing my leg with it several times a day. The Tea Tree helps to control the staph germ & I managed to get it back under control without contacting the doc. At that point in time, they were telling us to stay away from the ER and the doc’s office. Our Urgent Care offices had closed down, so I did the best that I could do at the time. Maybe I was just lucky, but it worked. Now I’m bathing my entire body with Tea Tree soap just to be safe. Manuka soap is the same as Tea Tree soap. Manuka comes from New Zealand where Tea Tree comes from Australia. Tea Tree is sometimes called Melaluca

canidmajor's avatar

@Dutchess_lll Call your doctor right away, the lesions can become infected. Hopefully you can be prescribed anti-virals and /or steroids over the phone. Maybe they have samples on site and can give you some if you need them to.
I hope you get over this soon, shingles is a bitch.

snowberry's avatar

To varying degrees I’ve always sort of been in this situation. I am allergic to the chemicals in fragrances, Lysol and hand sanitizer. They give me severe asthma. Unfortunately the doctors I’ve dealt with can’t seem to understand. There are ways to work with patients like me (and yes, even with COVID) but they seem to have a disconnect.

Alternative medicine is an option, and some advice works better than others. After moving to a new state I have landed in a very good spot with my new naturopath.

JLeslie's avatar

@canidmajor As far as I know secondary infection isn’t common, although it is possible of course. I don’t know anyone personally who has gotten a bacterial infection during a shingles eruption. The biggest thing we always worry about is blindness if it’s near the eyes, and the pain and discomfort associated with it.

Do you happen to have a link to bacterial infection statistics? I couldn’t find information on that when I did a quick google. Shingles looks very messy, it can easily be mistaken for a bacterial infection. The first doctor who diagnosed me didn’t diagnose me with shingles, he gave me an antibiotic, and basically he was an idiot. Then a doctor diagnosed me (educated guess) just hearing the story after the fact. The next time I got shingles (same spot) I got it cultured and confirmed.

Again, I believe it can get infected, I’m just wondering how often that happens.

I agree she should get antivirals ASAP. They work best early, but I think they help even if it’s been a few days already.

canidmajor's avatar

@JLeslie I don’t have links, anything that is open is subject to infection.

Brian1946's avatar


I had shingles in 1995, and the doctor recommended Domeboro soaks for topical alleviation.

janbb's avatar

I am very glad I got the new Shingles vaccine series.

JLeslie's avatar

@canidmajor Of course. You just made it sound like it is a big threat, and I don’t think it happens much.

Meanwhile, to get back on topic for the Q, I think @Dutchess_lll should call or telemed her doctor if she hasn’t yet, I seem to remember she has had shingles before, so hopefully they won’t require a visit, and will just prescribe. Although, if it is near her eye, I would assume a doctor would want to see her in person.

@janbb Too late for that now for @Dutchess_lll. Plus, I have my doubts it is effective for people who have serial outbreaks, I asked our jelly infectious disease doctor if that has ever been studied, and he said not that he knows of, and he agreed with me that logically the vaccine wouldn’t be effective for people like me who get shingles over an over again. We get it and we don’t create enough immunity to prevent it again, why would the shot be better than actually having an occurrence? It probably wouldn’t, but we don’t know for sure I guess. It would be nice if they did a study of some sort. Although, I think now they give a higher dose in the vaccine? Maybe that would be helpful. I haven’t read up on the vaccine lately.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Thanks @Brian1946. That looks affordable and it’s OTC.
I’ll call the office on Monday @canidmajor. Perhaps I’ll vist the clinic that’s based on income.

I got shingles in 2012 after my hospital stay. It wasn’t very bad, and I got the shot soon after that.
This go around is a whole different gear.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III Thanks for posting that you had the shot. That’s another piece of information for me. If you have a regular doctor maybe they will just call in the medicine without an appointment. Most of my doctors did that for me over the years.

Is the outbreak in the same place? If you get a fever or red streaks traveling far from the area that should be seen by a doctor, that could be a secondary infection, but I’m sure you know that already.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

I spoke with my pharmacist who has been wonderful through all of this. I told him of my situation and asked for his recommendation. He said “ACYCLOVIR.” Best bang for my buck he said. I’ll call my doc Monday.

JLeslie's avatar

If the Valtrex isn’t much more and you can afford it, I would go with that. Acyclovir (brand name Zovirax) you have to take a lot of times during the day, it’s probably 4 or 5 times a day, it has a really short half life. Valtrex is twice a day, sometimes people take it 3 times a day to lower the dose at each time you take it. If you want to bother you can ask the pharmacist the price difference. Zoviirax is a much older drug, so it makes sense it would be cheaper though, but Valtrex does come generic also. I guess you will see what your doctor says. Pharmacists are awesome. I think that was really smart to ask the pharmacist.

JLeslie's avatar

Just writing a disclaimer that I am not a medical professional, I forgot to write that in my answers and a jelly was kind enough to remind me.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
canidmajor's avatar

@JLeslie Infection can happen pretty easily if one is not careful.

Brian1946's avatar


So true.

I once got blood poisoning from not sanitizing an open blister.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Well it seems to have cleared up over night. All I can attribute that to is the Aveeno hydrocortisone cream I put on a couple times yesterday to control the itching.

I’m showering every day to stave off infection. So far so good.
Thanks guys.

canidmajor's avatar

@Dutchess_lll, glad to hear it, shingles is a miserable thing.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

It was horrible. I had them one other time in 2012. It was mild. I didn’t understand why people talked about agonizing pain.
I understand now. ;O

Brian1946's avatar


Was the anatomical location of your 2012 outbreak, different than that of your recent one?

The one I had in 1995 occurred in my lower back, and the pain was mild.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

It was roughly in the same area, just on the other side.

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