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When To Call Your Doctor

We asked Nieca Goldberg, M.D., medical director of New York University's Women's Heart Program, to clear up the confusion.


SYMPTOM: CHEST PAIN

Wait it out if...the pain dissipates after a few seconds or if your chest is sore to the touch—you may have pulled a muscle. A painful burning sensation in the chest and stomach within a few hours of eating a large meal is usually due to heartburn.

Pick up the phone if...the pain lasts for more than a few minutes or radiates down one arm. “Chest pain that’s accompanied by sweating, shortness of breath, or nausea may indicate a heart attack or blood clot,” says Goldberg.


SYMPTOM: DIZZINESS

Wait it out if...you haven’t had anything to eat or drink for several hours.

Pick up the phone if...you faint or if the light-headedness recurs persistently. “These could both be symptoms of anemia, a viral infection like meningitis, or even a heart problem,” says Goldberg. “A change in your vision may signal a stroke, so go to the emergency room.”


SYMPTOM: FEVER

Wait it out if...your temperature is 102°F or lower and goes away in two days.

Pick up the phone if...you also have a severe headache, fuzzy thinking, or an unusual rash. You may have a dangerous infection, such as meningitis.

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