You’d probably run straight to the doctor if you broke a rib, ripped off a fingernail, or got food poisoning, right? Well guess what, that might be a waste of time! Dr. Mallika Marshall is a frequent medical contributor to CBS News. She says that some illnesses and injuries don’t require a doctor’s care. In fact, doing nothing is the best thing you could do for them. Of course, if you have ANY doubt, see a doctor – but here’s a list of surprising do-it-yourself medical fixes:
- A broken rib. Rib fractures are common – usually from a fall, playing sports, or even violent coughing. A broken rib will heal on its own in 6 to 8 weeks, and there’s nothing your doctor can do to speed the healing process. For pain, use an anti-inflammatory, like ibuprofen or aspirin. If the pain is bad, your doctor can write a prescription for a stronger painkiller.
- Food poisoning. It’s often caused by eating or drinking something contaminated with bacteria, viruses or parasites. Your body goes into vomiting and diarrhea mode to get rid of the toxins. Dr. Marshall says you usually don’t need to take medicine and in some cases, anti-diarrheal pills can make matters worse. If the symptoms persist more than two days, or you have intense stomach pain, bleeding, a fever, double vision, severe dehydration, dizziness, or muscle weakness, call your doctor, STAT!
- Another injury you don’t need to see a doctor for: a torn-off fingernail or toenail. It’s quite painful – but there’s not much your doctor can do. The at-home remedy: Cover the wound with a topical antibiotic ointment, and a bandage – and wait. It’ll stop hurting in a few days – but it could take 6 months for the nail to fully grow back.
- The final injury you can treat at home: A burst blood vessel in the eye. It can happen after a cough or a sneeze, or after rubbing your eye. It doesn’t hurt, even though it looks awful - like you’re bleeding in the white of your eye. Like most bruises, there’s nothing you can do to help it heal and it’ll usually go away on its own in a couple of weeks.