Don’t ignore those symptoms you’ve been having just because the holidays are upon us!

Nikki Sommer, a nurse with Key West Surgical Group, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5 FM for Medical Matters yesterday morning.

Ignoring medical issues for the holidays is not really a good idea.

Sommer said, “It’s every year around this time. It’s the holidays, and everybody wants to make sure everything is perfect for the holidays or their schedules are really busy and people are canceling their surgeries and pushing them until after the New Year. They’re in denial. And they will call and they will try and do everything in their power not to have to go either to the ER or to the urgent care or they’ll choose the urgent care when they should go to the ER. So it becomes an emergency situation. I haven’t worked in the hospital for a long time, but always this time leading up to the holidays and the week between Christmas and New Year’s is bad for a lot of emergencies that probably could have been prevented if they were taken care of in a timely manner prior to them becoming an emergency.”

Denial is almost like a bad superpower.

Sommer said, “Some people are so afraid of hospitals and it’s almost like they know that there’s a possibility where they might need to be admitted. So they’ll go to the urgent care because they’re afraid and it’s fear. So these are the things you really need to go to the ER for and not an urgent care. Choking. If you’re choking or have something stuck in your throat, even people have had food that has gotten stuck in their esophagus. While this doesn’t present a breathing problem, sometimes that cannot be fixed at an urgent care, so you would need to go to the ER.”

Any kind of difficulty breathing or if someone has stopped breathing, they should go to the ER.

Sommer said, “If you have a head injury and you lose consciousness, even if you lose consciousness or you’re out for a few seconds and you come back, definitely should probably go to the ER not an urgent care. Any type of neck, spine injury if you have any numbness or tingling that’s probably better, when an acute injury definitely go to the ER.”

Electric shock or severe burns should go to the ER.

Sommer said, “Chest pain or pressure. I put that in all capitals, because a lot of times and I’ve worked at urgent care and people are having acute heart attacks and they walk into the urgent care. So they have to go to the hospital and then sometimes they even have to get flown out. So in my training time is muscle, meaning that the damage to the heart muscle, you want to get that taken care of right away. So seeking care in the wrong place can actually become detrimental to preserving your heart function if you’re really having a heart attack.”

What can a person go to urgent care for?

Sommer said, “If you cut yourself, and you’re bleeding and you need stitches, the urgent care is a great place to be. Flu and bad colds, we have two urgent cares down here that can get a chest X ray, or even a CAT scan on site. So if you’re not really having any difficulty breathing where you can’t walk and you’re short of breath. You have a flu, bad cold, they are the place to go. Sprains and muscle pulls, fever, headache, diarrhea and vomiting, as long as it isn’t associated with sharp, unbearable abdominal pain. And your typical sinus infections, ear infections, sore throat, minor fractures, all that can be done at the urgent care. If you turn up and you’re having a heart attack at the urgent care, our urgent cares down here are very well capable of getting your treatment initiated and getting to where you are, it’s just for you, the patient, it’s better for your heart muscle to get  treated immediately.”

When should a person call their physician?

Sommer said, “Most primary care physicians can assess and help you, but sometimes you need further workup. So that’s what I mean when I get a phone call and it’s like, I really don’t want to go to the ER. I really don’t want to go to the urgent care. Can the doctor help me over the phone? That’s not really the best practice of medicine for the doctor or for you. I mean, they can listen to what your complaints are, and probably gear you to which is better, but a lot of times, especially over the phone, even here in the office, they can assess you and they can press on your stomach and if you say ow, that means you have to go somewhere else.”

Skin abscesses also need immediate care.

Sommer said, “Because sometimes it’ll be a Friday afternoon and patients will either wait to call late Friday afternoon or if we’re closed and I get a message Monday morning that they tried to call and waited all weekend and then they have a raging infection, when they could have started antibiotics and had treatment days sooner. So especially with skin infections are very prevalent down here. Don’t let them go.”

Sometimes patients will go from a physician’s office to the ER.

Sommer said, “When you talk to somebody over the phone, you don’t really know how severe their symptoms are. People gauge their pain differently. I’ve had people who say oh no, the pain is mild and they’ve had a ruptured colon, ended up hours later at presenting in the ER with a ruptured colon and no fever. Then we’ve had people here where again, not that they meant to downplay their symptoms, but they really didn’t tell us how bad they were over the phone, they come in, and it becomes an emergency situation. So we’d like to not have that happen to you.”

Key West Surgical group has the PicoSure Pro Laser, which provides the freedom to change the past, especially with tattoos.

Sommer said, “This machine is really good for all colors. The results I’m seeing are pretty impressive. I had two clients that had really good results after one treatment. Now I have to say it varies. It varies on the age of the tattoo, the color, how concentrated the ink was when the tattoo was done and how deep the artist went into the skin. That’s just more pigment that needs to be broken up. We’ve had some pretty impressive results.”

It’s 15 percent off right now for tattoo and laser facial resurfacing packages.

Sommer said, “That’ll be good till the end of the year. We’re here to answer any questions and we are offering free consultations.”

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