When it comes to treating most mild maladies, from the common cold to an infection of the flu virus to a bout of food poisoning, it's usually not only viable to treat the afflicted person at home, but even advisable in many circumstances. An unnecessary trip to the emergency room, the urgent care clinic, or even simply to the doctor's office can mean incurring extra expenses, it can mean putting undo emotional stress and physical strain on the person already feeling unwell, and it can expose the sick patient and healthy family members alike to the myriad viruses and bacteria often found in hospitals and at other medical facilities.
Before you rush to the ER at the first signs of a sickness, make sure you try to evaluate your symptoms or those of the family member or friend for whom you're providing care. Stomach cramping and short-term diarrhea may indicate a minor case of food poisoning that merits no treatment beyond rest and rehydration, for example. Stomach and chest pains accompanied by high fever and chills might also indicate the presence of an enterovirus that must not be ignored, however. A 102-degree Fahrenheit fever that a young child experiences for an hour or two might seem, frightening, but a 100-degree Fahrenheit fever an adult suffers for 48 hours is likely the more serious issue. (Children's fevers tend to run much higher than adult fevers; these higher temperatures do not necessarily indicate a more serious medical issue.)
Paying attention to the magnitude and the persistence of symptoms is the best way to tell if supportive home care is sufficient or if professional medical intervention is needed. (But, when in doubt, choose to let the professionals assess the patient and head to the hospital, clinic, or doctor right away.)
Monitoring yourself or the person in your care involves visual assessments of everything from skin color to the whiteness of the tongue. It involves paying attention to a person's ability to eat food and drink water, and it means studying their cognition, their energy levels, and their sleep patterns.
One of the best ways to create an assessment of a person's health is to take his or her temperature regularly throughout the course of their illness and even after symptoms seem to have subsided. A fever is one of the body's primary ways to fight an infection, and knowing how hard the body is fighting, as it were, speaks volumes about the person's health.