When You Can’t Get to a Doctor: 10 Medical Procedures You Can Do at Home
A survival medicine specialist’s tricks to treat yourself in the event of an emergency.
When to be your own doctor
Sometimes, it’s just not possible to get to a doctor. Maybe there’s an ice storm or you’re on a wilderness trek or society has up and collapsed. Below are some problems I treat in my office that can often be addressed at home. In many cases, it’s best to get to a doctor if you can. But when you can’t, these tips, based on my new book The Survival Doctor’s Complete Handbook, may get you out of a pinch.
When a ring is stuck on your finger
This is one of my most popular tips—and it doesn’t require cutting the ring. Instead, cut off a long piece of dental floss. Turn the ringed hand palm up. Thread one end of the floss through the ring, going down toward your palm. Hold that end of the floss in place with the thumb of your ringed hand. Take the other end of the string and wrap the floss tightly around and around your finger, starting at the ring and moving up toward the fingertip. The goal is to squeeze some of the swelling toward the tip, making your finger skinny enough to get the ring off. This trick doesn’t always work, but when it does, it saves both your ring and your finger. You can avoid having to use it by remembering to immediately take any rings off an injured finger or hand—before it swells.
When your ear’s clogged with wax
When clogged earwax is affecting your hearing, here’s a simple home remedy that often works. Take a small bulb syringe—that rubber squeeze ball with a long, narrow tip that’s often used to suck mucus out of babies’ noses. Fill it with lukewarm water. (If the water is too cold or too warm, it may trigger severe dizziness.) Stand in front of a sink. Wrap the arm opposite your ear around the back of your head, and grab the back of your ear. Pull the ear backward. Tilt your head over the sink and irrigate. Caution: It’ll be a little messy. Irrigate two to four times. Stop if there’s any discomfort. If nothing comes out, you may want to wait a while and try again. Here’s why your body makes ear wax in the first place.