Medical problems come in all shapes and sizes. Some are easy to recognize, simple or harmless, whereas others may not be so obvious, are complex, or even dangerous. Telling the difference between them can be quite tricky, and making a formal medical diagnosis is best left to the professionals.
Whenever you develop a health problem, you automatically make a diagnosis yourself – whether you know it or not. If you develop a headache, for example, you may decide to ignore it for a few days and see what happens, or take some simple painkillers to relieve your symptoms. But what if the headache gets worse, or if it’s very severe? When – and how – can you tell whether you should seek medical advice? This section aims to help you make these types of decisions by thinking like a medic – so that you can approach a variety of common or potentially serious problems appropriately.