words Al Woods
Getting to see your family doctor can sometimes seem like a challenge as waiting times increase. Generally, if you feel the need to visit the medical centre, it’s because you are unwell or concerned about an aspect of your health.
You try to schedule an appointment only to be told that you will have to wait days, or sometimes weeks to see a physician. Some patients feel that they will either be dead or better by then.
In the UK, waiting times rose to an average of thirteen days in 2017, but more than 40% of routine patients waited longer than two weeks for an appointment. This pales into insignificance when compared with a similar survey across fifteen US cities which found an average wait of twenty-four days. For those in Boston that rises to a staggering average of fifty-two days!
A downside of this situation is for patients who are not necessarily feeling ill but have some symptoms they are concerned about. An online symptom checker can often mislead. While they would like to discuss them with their GP, they don’t want to feel as if they are wasting the doctors valuable time. The patient, men in particular, puts off making an appointment but, for some seemingly innocuous conditions this delay can have serious, sometimes life-threatening consequences.
If you have any worrying symptoms or health concerns, you need to make the appointment and see your doctor. They will be only too happy to tell you if there is nothing to worry about and put your mind at rest. But they will also be glad to catch a potentially serious condition early. The following are symptoms that are worth getting checked out.
You can be expected to find yourself short of breath after doing any form of vigorous exercise or by being at high altitude. The extent of your breathlessness and how long it lasts will depend on your level of fitness. However, if you are struggling for breath without having exerted yourself it can be a sign of a serious underlying condition, especially if additional symptoms are present. If it happens suddenly it could be an allergic reaction or anxiety, but if it comes on gradually it can indicate problems with the heart. lungs or blood vessels.
Unexpected Loss of Weight
The weight loss industry is huge and losing weight without any effort would be a dream come true for many people. But unexplained weight loss, where you haven’t increased your exercise or reduced your intake of calories, can be a sign of a number of conditions. Stressful life events such as a bereavement or divorce can result in temporary loss in weight. Over a longer term, it can be a symptom of diabetes, overactive thyroid, stomach ulcer, Parkinson’s, dementia depression or various types of cancer.
Water is essential to your health and being thirsty is your body’s way of saying it needs topping up. According to the latest advice, in a temperate climate you should drink one to two litres of water a day. A hot climate, vigorous exercise and a high salt intake will increase your thirst levels. However, not being able to quench your thirst could point to a more serious problem. Dehydration can be a result of illness when coupled with diarrhoea and vomiting. If, along with your thirst, you need to urinate more often, are fatigued and have blurred vision, you should get tested for diabetes. Constant thirst can also be a symptom of anaemia. These conditions are all treatable, but you need to consult your doctor.
Most people suffer from a headache from time to time and there are many factors that can set it off. Colds or flu, tension, eye strain, dehydration and hangovers are among the most common causes. However, if your headache becomes frequent or consistent, painkillers don’t work or you have other symptoms, you should see your doctor. Nausea and sensitivity to light could indicate a migraine. Pain in your jaw when eating and double vision can mean inflamed arteries in your head or neck which needs urgent treatment.
If you have recently suffered a bad head injury and the pain is accompanied by speech problems, drowsiness, confusion, vision loss or stiff neck, you should call an ambulance or get to the hospital emergency room.
Moles and Freckles
Moles and freckles appear in childhood and are both caused by concentrations of melanin in skin cells. Freckles are usually inherited by those with fairer skin and can darken when exposed to the sun. The majority of us have moles with average of thirty on white skinned people, although some have many hundreds. Both freckles and moles can fade or disappear in later life. However, if a mole or freckle changes in size or colour, the border changes or the spot becomes raised, you should have it checked as it can be a precursor of skin cancer. Similarly, if a new mole appears it will usually be nothing to worry about, but visit a doctor to be sure.
Your doctor is a highly trained professional, but they can make mistakes. Many medical centres are under pressure to meet patient appointment targets and this can lead to a misdiagnosis. The conditions above and others can be too easily dismissed as nothing to be concerned about or mistaken for something else for which the wrong treatment is prescribed. Both of these errors could result in long-term health issues.
If you are not happy with a diagnosis or you think that you have suffered from injury or illness as a direct cause of medical negligence you should first get a second opinion from another doctor.
You might also be entitled to compensation for medical costs, pain and suffering, loss of earnings and other expenses. To find out how to make medical negligence compensation claim in the UK, consult a legal expert who is a specialist in this field and who will advise you how to proceed.