For most people, feeling sick is a sign that it is time to go to the doctor. Even if it may only be the common cold, getting a quick checkup to ensure that it isn’t something more sinister is worth it. But there are those who honestly don’t have the money (or the insurance) to go and see a doctor over what may be nothing at all. So this will beg the question of when should one play it safe, vs being overly cautions.
This is a tough one to answer, and I’ll just come out and say that I’m not going to. But, here instead are my own personal thoughts on the matter, as I did grow up under less-than-affluent circumstances, and going to the doctor wasn’t always an option. In your own case, I would always advise one to go and seek medical treatment at the first sign of illness.
The first thing to consider is how bad do you feel? The common cold can make one feel lousy, but it is not the end of the world. Sure, a stuffy nose and some other symptoms, but it doesn’t usually incapacitate one. Severity of the symptoms is the key thing to look at. If you feel X, then how severe is X?
The next thing to consider is how long you have had the symptoms. If something just started, you may be fine putting of a doctor visit for a few days to see if it starts clearing up on its own. But if you have had prolonged symptoms, then you better get checked out as it may be coming from something other than the usual fare.
Finally, there is finances. If you live under meager means, then perhaps a $50 doctor visit is a big expense. There are always alternatives. Free clinics can provide some medical service, and there are ones that also don’t charge very much at all.
Again, I would always advise people to go to see a doctor at the first sign of trouble, just to be on the safe side. Doctors are trained to handle pretty much any kind of medical situation and know what symptoms mean what. They spend countless hours practicing their craft on manikins (like birthing simulators) and real people alike and are your best option for staying healthy. But if you are going to put the matter into your own hands, then be smart about it and keep an eye on your own symptoms and duration thereof.