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What's in a sneeze?
What's in a sneeze?
Valeria Roman

BUENOS AIRES - It’s the first guide of its kind. It explains which medical issues demand immediate attention and which ones can wait.

Someone feels well and then, all of a sudden, they feel very ill. It could be an incessant cough, acute headache, fever, bad stomach ache, a cold with constant sneezing, increased blood pressure, frightening chest pain, scorching heartburn, uncomfortable diarrhea, or a trauma after a silly fall.

These are the ten most common sudden health problems, which can appear out of nowhere and without apparent cause. They lead people to seek information on the Internet, which in turn only leads to more confusion.

Indeed there is too much information online that the general public does not know how to interpret. They do not know whether they should call a doctor, go to the Emergency Room, follow family and friends’ advice, or self-medicate.

To avoid such confusion in this Internet age, three family doctors from the Hospital Italiano in Buenos AirespublishedEl Libro Azulado (“The Blue Book”). The Blue Book is a didactic work, suitable for all audiences, that deals with sudden health problems and is intended to ease the fear and anxiety generated by these issues. Miguel Zarate, one of the co-authors along with Paula Carrete and Esteban Rubinstein says: “We want to provide patients with the tools to adequately and reasonably decide what is their best option according the issue they have.”

Here are some of the doctors’ recommendations for the most frequent sudden health problems:

Acute Headache: You must go to the doctor if it is accompanied by convulsions, fever, or vomiting. If not, you can rest and wait for it to pass.

High Blood Pressure: You must go to the Emergency Room if it is accompanied by disorientation, difficulty seeing, speaking, or moving any body part.

Chest Pain: It can be due to several causes. If it is intense, constant, oppressive, and it lasts longer than 10 minutes, you must go to the Emergency Room immediately. Even if the pain is mild or tolerable, it is always advisable to get medical attention in case it turns into a persistent pain.

Cold: It is the most common infectious disease. There is no need for medical attention or antibiotics. At times, you can use nasal decongestants, but these have side effects.

Cough: It takes care of itself with time. Therefore beware of self-medicating with addictive medicines. If the person is a young child or someone older than 65 suffering from shortness of breath or fever, it is recommended that they consult a physician promptly.

Fever: Body temperature over 38 degrees Celsius. If the person was recently operated on, feels very ill, in low spirits or confused, or if it affects a baby younger than three months, or a child with a history of convulsions, you must consult a physician urgently.

Stomach Ache: It is usually trivial and due to gastritis or a non-specific cause. In the case of a ruptured abdominal aneurysm or appendicitis, it can be managed with medical attention. If it is appendicitis, the pain will not yield, but it will increase and require surgical intervention.

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