Back to Index

The first purpose of Adult HouseCalls Symptom Checker is to help you determine how sick you are and if you need to call your doctor. The second purpose is to help you treat yourself at home when it is safe to do so. Your doctor's advice and your good judgment should always take precedence over information in these topics.

Here are some instructions for using HouseCalls Symptom Checker:

  1. Choose the Appropriate Topic. Choose the topic that most closely matches your symptoms.
    • If you have more than one symptom, address the most serious symptom. Serious means the symptom that potentially could cause the most harm to you. (Example: for nosebleed and head trauma together, use the Head Trauma guideline.) If you are not sure which topic to use, use more than one guideline.
    • Do not use the fever guideline unless fever is your only symptom. If you also have a cough, diarrhea or other symptom, go to that topic instead of fever.
    • Choosing the appropriate symptom is very important because it leads you to the best information for your illness or injury.
  2. Read the Definition. Go to the chosen topic and read the Definition to be sure it is a good fit for your problem. If not, consider related symptoms listed under "See More Appropriate Topic (instead of this one)".
  3. Read the Decision Chart Sections. Following the Definition in each topic, there is a Decision Chart, which gives options for what action you should take, including Call 911, Call Your Doctor Now, Call Your Doctor within 24 Hours, and so on. Below each option is a list of symptoms/reasons for choosing that option. Read through these bulleted items. Read from top to bottom and do not skip any symptoms or reasons. The purpose of these is to help you determine the seriousness of your illness or injury.
  4. Follow the Action Suggested in the Decision Chart. If you have even one of the serious or other "Call Your Doctor" symptoms, stop reading the list of reasons to call your doctor and take the action suggested in the heading at the top of the list. If the recommendation is to call your doctor within 24 hours or during weekday office hours, refer to the Home Care Advice section for self care advice until then.
  5. Follow Home Care Advice. If you have none of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms, follow the Home Care Advice listed in the final section. But be alert to any worsening or new symptoms. If your condition changes for the worse, calling your doctor again is a good idea.
  6. Reader's Responsibility. You are in control of this process. If you think you need to be seen, call your doctor for assistance, or go to the nearest emergency department.


If you think that you are having a medical emergency, call 911 or the number for the local emergency ambulance service NOW!

And when in doubt, call your doctor NOW or go to the closest emergency department.

Author and Senior Reviewer: David A. Thompson, M.D.

Content Set: Adult HouseCalls Symptom Checker

Adult HouseCalls Symptom Checker