To understand the role a primary care physician in treating acute symptoms, you must first understand what acute symptoms are and how they relate to your primary care doctor and their ability to provide the care you need in these situations.
What Are Acute Symptoms?
Acute symptoms are usually associated with an existing, or development of a condition or disease. Typically, the term is used when doctors are referring to a new condition. However, it can also be used to describe symptoms of a preexisting disease that is rapidly progressing and needs the attention of a doctor to develop better control.
The term acute does not indicate the severity of a symptom, it is considered a measure of time. It is one of many time measurements used in the practice of medicine, including:
- Acute – Sudden onset of symptoms. Could be a new condition or a progression of a preexisting condition.
- Sub-acute – Symptoms last longer than what is expected in acute cases, but the symptoms do not progress as rapidly as an acute case.
- Chronic – Symptoms show no change over time, and they are expected to last indefinitely, with or without medication therapy.
As you can see, there are a lot of differences in the time definitions provided to symptoms and conditions. The time frame assigned to a condition or symptom depends on the circumstances surrounding its appearance, as well as its duration and has nothing to do with its severity. Conditions can be labeled as acute whether they are as minor as a severe throat or as severe as a sudden heart attack.
What to Expect When Visiting Your Doctor for Acute Symptoms
When you go to your doctor’s office with sudden symptoms that are bothering you, there are a few things you should expect to happen during your visit. Here are the two main steps you can expect.
The Nurse will Take Your History
Before the doctor comes in, the nurse will ask you about your symptoms and how long they have been present. You will be asked if the symptoms interfere with your daily activities, and whether you have seen any improvement in your symptoms since they appeared.
Your doctor will perform a physical examination. They will evaluate the symptoms you have reported and make a diagnosis based on their experience and training.
In order to ensure their diagnosis is correct, you may need to have testing completed. This could include blood tests, x-rays, or more extensive testing such as MRIs or CT scans.
Depending on your situations, there may be additional steps taken to ensure that your health is in order and that your symptoms and condition is under control and treated to the best of your doctor’s ability.