From our health files: When you don’t feel 100 percent, the main question to ask yourself is: “How serious are my symptoms?” Here’s how to tell when it’s okay to wait and see if it gets better on its own, and when you need to medical attention, ASAP.
- First: Is it a fracture, or a sprain? Press the sore spot and the surrounding area with the tip of your finger. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jonathan Garino says that if pressure on the bone doesn’t hurt as much as the area nearby, it’s probably a sprain. If touching the bone is more painful, it’s probably broken. So, see a doctor.
- Is it runner’s toe, or toenail fungus? The way to find out: Trim the toenail in question. If it’s fungus, the nail will be frail, and crumble like chalk. You’ll probably also notice a stinky smell, and a gap between the nail and the nail bed. All of that will heal with fungal treatment. On the flip side, if your toenail is black or gray, or the nail bed is red and swollen, it’s probably runner’s toe. That's where the nail is damaged when your foot repeatedly slams into your sneaker – causing swelling, and bleeding under the nail. Your best bet: Tie your laces tighter across your instep to keep your foot from sliding. Or wear smaller shoes. Dermatologist Dr. Adnan Nasir says the less space there is in your sneaker, the less your foot will slide and jam against your shoe.
- Is it a cavity, or just a sensitive tooth? Look in the mirror. Dentist Dr. Denis Kinane says if your tooth looks normal, it could be a cavity. So, see a dentist. If the sore tooth looks shinier than the teeth nearby – or if the gum line is lower – it may be sensitive from over-brushing, which can cause worn enamel and receding gums. Sensitivity usually improves on its own, and you can help by using toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth.