17. When should I see a doctor about...

...a backache?

See a physician immediately if the back pain keeps you from sleeping; you also have numbness in your leg, foot, groin, or rectal area; you also have fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, stomachache, weakness, or sweating; you've also lost control of urination or bowel movements; you've been in a car crash or other accident; you have a history of cancer. Otherwise, try over-the-counter pain relievers, alternating heating pads with ice packs, and a day or two of rest followed by gentle exercise for two to three weeks before making an appointment.

You'll want to call after two weeks of a burning sensation in the middle of your chest or abdomen—or sooner if you have other signs of gastroesophageal reflux disease such as a dry cough or trouble swallowing despite using an over-the-counter antacid or reflux medicine.

...a fever?
Go to the emergency room if you also experience stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting (it could be appendicitis); severe headache, neck stiffness, drowsiness, vomiting, and light sensitivity (possibly meningitis); you feel faint and confused after spending time outdoors in hot weather (signs of heatstroke). Call your doctor right away if you have one or more of the following: a fever above 103 degrees; bloody diarrhea; a red rash or red streaks on your arm or leg; an earache; painful urination; sore throat; muscle and joint pain; back pain. If two days of an over-the-counter fever reducer (like aspirin or ibuprofen) doesn't bring down your temperature—or if you're also vomiting—it's time for professional help. Call in two weeks if you have a persistent low-grade (101 degrees or less) fever that doesn't go away.

...a sore throat?
See a doctor immediately if you have one or more of the following: a fever of 101 degrees or higher; dehydration; difficulty swallowing or breathing; tender or swollen lymph glands in your neck; pus in the back of your throat; a red rash that feels rough, with increased redness in the skin folds; a persistent cough. Call after three days if you also have body aches, headache, cough, or runny nose.

...abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting?
You'll need emergency treatment if you have one or more of the following: a fever above 102 degrees; tender abdomen; bloody diarrhea or black stools; sudden sharp pain that starts under your ribs and moves to your groin; backache; bloating and severe cramping; or you're pregnant and have abdominal or pelvic pain or vaginal bleeding. Call your physician right away if you're in constant pain and have vaginal discharge or a burning feeling when you urinate; traveler's diarrhea that doesn't respond to over-the-counter medicines; or are taking a new medicine that seems to be causing diarrhea.

...muscle and joint pain?
Get your internist or general practitioner on the phone immediately if you have a fever; red or swollen skin over the muscle; severe pain that has no obvious cause; a tick bite or rash; or if you recently started a new prescription or changed doses of a drug you've been taking. Otherwise, give rest and pain relievers three days to work before making a call.

18. Is liposuction worth it?
Yes—but only to resculpt stubborn bulges after weight loss. It won't get rid of cellulite, and it's a bust for keeping you slim: In one study from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 43 percent of people who'd had lipo put the fat back on, mostly because they didn't adopt a healthy diet or exercise.
As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.


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