Identifying common ailments

First off, the disclaimer:

- Ignore doctor's advice at your own peril. Sometimes doctors are incompetent and this is not particularly perilous; regardless, the peril is still your own.
- In an emergency, use emergency services. I will describe what an emergency looks like.
- If in doubt, use emergency services. 911 is free, and they would much rather deal with a well-intentioned anxiety attack than the many people who call on them to 'fix' things like broken fingernails.

What an emergency looks like

If you are:

Then you are likely having a medical emergency. In the US, you should call 911. 911 is free. A trip to the hospital is not; ambulance rides are especially expensive. It's wise to become familiar with what your insurance does and does not cover before you have to use it.

If you are prone to anxiety attacks, and feel something wrong with your heart or similar, but don't know if it's just a feedback loop of anxiety, call 911 anyway. They'll have a EKG and be able to figure it out for you. Symptoms of heart attack are too wide to be easy to self-diagnose, especially in women.

If you are:

Then you are developing a medical emergency, and should go to an urgent care or hospital as soon as you can. The difference: Urgent cares are generally better equipped for dealing with physical eg. sports or work injuries; hospitals are better equipped for full-spread diagnosis, and are more likely to have things like blood testing on site. (You need this sort of testing to check for things like anemia, or bacterial infections.)

What non-emergencies look like, and how to deal with them