I was once hit in the face by a volleyball. The hitter was a tall, powerful person who knew how to spike a volleyball – and I was in the way. My hard contact lens popped out, and I had a massive red-eye and a shiner as well. I went to my ophthalmologist the next morning. He examined me and announced that it would be fine in 10 days. Sure enough, ten days later the redness and swelling were gone.

I saw the doctor at a dinner a few weeks later and asked him how he knew that I’d be all cleared up in ten days. He said, “It’s always ten days.”

In my experience, most medical-type problems resolve themselves in about ten days – UNLESS there is something seriously wrong. Our bodies naturally heal themselves, given enough time. It’s a FACT that many of us have forgotten, especially in these days of powerful drugs and insurance payments.

There’s an old joke about the common cold. If your doctor prescribes something for you the virus will clear up in about seven days – and if you don’t do anything, it might take a week. Again, supporting the belief idea that our bodies heal on their own.

Many of us run off to the doctor or the urgent care place at the first sign of symptoms. We demand the latest and best – and, often, most costly – treatment, and we want it now. As my stories demonstrate, the best remedy might be time, not drugs.

What’s a person to do? A little common sense goes a long way in almost every medical situation. Think about it this way. If symptoms suddenly appear, you can be highly confident that they will resolve themselves in a week to ten days. If, after ten days, the symptoms linger, or have gotten worse, it will be the time to get to a doctor. There’s a substantial difference between waiting ten days and waiting six months.

When the Ten-Day Rule fails. It should be intuitively obvious to the most casual observer that emergencies aren’t going to resolve themselves in ten days. If you’re hit by a train or wounded by a machine gun, get to a doctor immediately. The Ten-Day Rule does not apply.


Original Date: July 8, 2009. Updated June 21, 2018