Freak Out or Chill Out: Doctors Provide Answers to Your Medical Concerns

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Think everything hurts? Don’t know what that weird bump could be? A new book written by two cardiologists may have the answers to your question — spoiler alert, the answer will probably be to chill out.

In Am I Dying?!: A Complete Guide to Your Symptoms—And What to Do Next, Dr. Marc Eisenberg, a cardiologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, and his co-author Dr. Christopher Kelly break down common symptoms and medical myths.

“People, when they get sick, tend to google their symptoms. The problem with that is they tend to go down a rabbit hole, where you go from having leg pain to potentially having a blood clot that will cause a stroke, and then you’ll die,” Dr. Eisenberg says. “We want people to know, most symptoms are likely nothing and there are things you can do to make the symptoms better.”

In a lighthearted approach, the pair teach readers how to triage symptoms. Each chapter looks at a specific symptom like a stuffy nose or chest pain and explains when to take a chill pill, when you need immediate medical attention, and when you should probably schedule an appointment with your doctor.  “We try to help people with their primary symptoms by looking at other symptoms they might have and from there determine how serious it condition may be,” he adds.

Dr. Eisenberg, who was Dr. Kelly’s cardiology fellowship instructor at NewYork-Presbyterian, consulted with specialists in gynecology, gastroenterology, rehabilitation medicine, ophthalmology, vascular surgery, and ophthalmology to ensure medical accuracy. Despite the wealth of medical knowledge that the book imparts, the authors make clear it is just a book and should not be used in place of actual medical advice from your doctor.

“With this book, we say, we’re giving you the advice we’d give our family members … at least the ones we like,” he says.

If you are compelled to consult Dr. Google about your symptoms, Dr. Eisenberg advises to stick to sites affiliated with a university, like NewYork-Presbyterian or Columbia University Irving Medical Center’s websites; government websites like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the National Institutes of Health; or professional association websites like the American College of Cardiology or the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“If you go to other sites, you could be getting advice from someone with no credentials or from someone who is trying to sell you stuff,” he says.

People interested in reading a relaxed take on other health concerns can also visit Drs. Eisenberg and Kelly’s website, AmIDying.com, where they post detailed articles on everything from does cranberry juice help prevent UTIs to surviving a sarin gas attack. Am I Dying?! is available at all major book retailers and for sale through their publisher HarperCollins.com.

Schedule an appointment with your doctor to find out if you should freak out or chill out. Looking for a primary care doctor near you, visit nyp.org/medicalgroups.

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