Where to Go and What to Do First if You Suspect Being Seriously Ill

Posted September 1, 2023 by in Health + Fitness

Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. When we experience unusual symptoms or suspect that we might be seriously ill, it could be daunting to decide the next best course of action.

This guide aims to provide insightful and helpful information on where to go and what to do first in such circumstances. It seeks to equip you with the knowledge to navigate through the healthcare system effectively, ensuring you receive the appropriate care in a timely manner. This is crucial because prompt action and the right treatment can significantly impact the overall outcome.

Primary Care Physician

If you suspect you’re seriously ill, your first step should be to contact your primary care physician. They know your medical history and can offer initial diagnosis and treatment. Furthermore, consulting a primary care doctor first can help you avoid unnecessary visits to the emergency room. Your primary care provider will be able to advise you on any further steps and refer you to a specialist if needed. Physicians are well qualified to diagnose and treat a range of illnesses, including the flu, bronchitis, pneumonia, diabetes, and high blood pressure. 

Moreover, they can also provide routine health screenings, such as diabetes and cholesterol testing, to ensure your overall wellness. When the first signs of illness arise, it is important to consult your primary care physician as early intervention can make all the difference.

Urgent Care Centers

For non-life-threatening conditions that require immediate attention outside of your doctor’s office hours, consider visiting an urgent care center. Urgent care centers offer convenient access to medical care and provide comprehensive services for most illnesses, injuries, and other conditions. They are typically open seven days a week, with extended hours in the evening and on weekends which makes them an ideal choice if you don’t wish to wait until your regular doctor’s office is open. 

What’s more, they also offer tests such as X-rays and lab work to help diagnose your condition. Urgent care centers are staffed by experienced physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who can provide prompt care and treatment for a range of illnesses.

Emergency Room (ER)

If your situation is critical, get to the ER immediately or call 911. Severe symptoms like chest pain, difficulty breathing, or sudden and severe pain warrant an ER visit. Emergency rooms are staffed with highly trained medical specialists and equipped to provide prompt treatment for life-threatening conditions. The ER will treat your symptoms, stabilize you, and then refer you to a specialist or your primary care physician as needed. Whether or not it is necessary to head straight to the ER, always remember that prompt action is key when it comes to serious illnesses. 

The ER is there for you if it is the best option, especially in the case of a medical emergency. Many illnesses can be effectively treated if caught in the early stages, so it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.


For non-emergency situations, especially during times when in-person visits are challenging, turning to telemedicine can be a useful alternative. Telemedicine involves using video calls, emails, or phone calls to get medical advice from a healthcare professional in real-time. This convenient option is growing rapidly and has proven to be an effective way to diagnose and treat multiple conditions in recent years. Many insurance companies provide coverage for telemedicine services, so make sure you check with yours beforehand. 

Furthermore, telemedicine is often the best option for those living in remote areas where access to medical care may be limited. While telemedicine can be used to diagnose and treat chronic conditions, it is best reserved for non-emergency situations. In emergency cases, you should always go directly to the ER or call 911.

Health Hotlines

Some health organizations and insurance companies provide hotlines for advice. These can be helpful in determining the seriousness of your condition. A qualified health professional can provide advice on what to do next. For example, if you suspect symptoms of food poisoning and are unsure whether or not it requires medical attention, calling a hotline can help you make the right decision. Moreover, they can also direct you to appropriate specialists if needed. Furthermore, they can provide additional information on health-related topics such as nutrition and exercise. For example, is an independent organization that offers reliable health advice and guidance through its hotline.

Online Resources

The internet is a great place to gather health information. However, it should not be a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Be sure to look for reliable sources when researching your symptoms online. Sites such as WebMD, which is run by a team of experienced healthcare professionals, can provide you with helpful information on health topics. Additionally, there are many reputable online forums where people share experiences and ask questions about health-related topics – but it is important to remember that the answers may not be medically accurate. With so much information available at our fingertips, it is still important to seek real medical advice from qualified healthcare professionals.

Follow-up Appointments

Whether you have visited an in-person provider or received care remotely, it is important to follow up with your doctor.  This will allow them to monitor any changes in your condition and guide appropriate next steps. Make sure to keep track of any medication prescribed and follow the instructions closely. Additionally, you should also discuss any lifestyle changes or dietary modifications that may help to improve your condition. With regular checkups and timely treatments, it is possible to manage your health effectively and prevent further complications. Furthermore, these follow-ups will go a long way in helping you maintain your overall wellness.

Overall, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you suspect being seriously ill. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, consider consulting your primary care physician, visiting an urgent care center, or heading to the ER immediately. For non-emergency situations, telemedicine can be a great option, as well as health hotlines and online resources. No matter which option you choose, it is always important to follow up with your doctor for further evaluation and treatment. Taking the right steps from the start can help ensure that you are properly taken care of during any medical emergency.