Trying to get access to medical assistance can often be a difficult and stressful time. You are already feeling lousy and trying to get that doctor’s appointment can seem like a monumental effort. Especially with the United Kingdom’s health services under such high pressure.
In fact sometimes it can feel like a battle of wills between you and the doctor’s receptionist just to get 10 minutes of their time, with many of us having to wait days or even weeks before an appointment is free. During this time your condition may have improved, or it could have become much worse.
Although the average waiting time to see a doctor in 2017 was thirteen days, more than 40% of patients had to wait for over a fortnight for an appointment. However, being ill in the UK is slightly better than in the USA where the average waiting time to see a medical professional is twenty-four days – or fifty-two if you happen to live in Boston, Massachusetts.
In these circumstances it may be ok to visit your local pharmacist but if you believe your symptoms could be a sign of a serious condition you want to see your doctor as soon as you can. With the many awareness campaigns helping us to spot early signs we often have an internal debate of whether we should bother our doctor or let the appointment go to someone who is actually ill. In particular, male patients often put off receiving medical attention, which can lead to the “worst case scenario”.
The main thing to remember is that you know your body. If you notice any changes or symptoms that worry you or just do not feel right, make sure you see your doctor as soon as you can. In most cases the symptoms turn out to be either benign or something less sinister and you can receive the relevant treatment you need. However, if the symptoms are more serious it is always best to spot them as early as possible.
If you suddenly notice these symptoms it is always best to get a medical opinion:
Unexplained Weight Loss
Although there are whole industries dedicated to helping people lose weight, suddenly dropping a large amount of weight could be a sign that something is wrong in your body. The most common cause is stress so if you are going through a difficult time this may be the issue. However, unexplained weight loss can also be a symptom of illnesses such as stomach ulcers, thyroid issues, diabetes, Parkinson’s, diabetes or even cancer.
Everybody experiences headaches at some point, as they are extremely common. These can be brought on by dehydration, eyestrain, cold or flu and hangovers but these usually go within a few hours. If you do experience regular headaches for longer periods combined with other symptoms, you should seek medical attention. If you are oversensitive to light or feel sick when having one of these headaches it could be that you are experiencing a migraine, while double vision and jaw ache can indicate inflamed arteries – which should receive urgent attention. You may also experience a headache following an injury. If this is the case, and you have a stiff neck, confusion or drowsiness, you should get yourself to the nearest emergency medical centre immediately.
Struggle to breathe
Breathlessness is a normal reaction if you have competed in periods of vigorous exercise or if you are at a high altitude, and the heavier the breathing depends largely on how physically fit you are. But if you are experiencing breathlessness without any obvious triggers there may be an underlying condition, especially if there are any other symptoms. There are many causes of breathlessness including anxiety, panic attacks or allergies. However, if the breathlessness is a gradual symptom this could be an indication of lung, blood vessel or heart problems.
We all know that we depend on water and that feeling thirsty is your body’s way of letting you know you need to have a drink, with recent medical advice recommending you should drink one or two litres of water each day, increasing if you are in a warmer climate, exercising or have a high salt intake. But if you are constantly drinking and still feel thirsty you can create damage quickly. Vomiting and diarrhoea can lead to dehydration and many illnesses have these symptoms, but if your thirst is accompanied by blurred vision and fatigue you could have diabetes. You should see your doctor as soon as you can as these conditions are easily treated, yet left untreated they could become dangerous.
Moles and Freckles
Everyone has moles and freckles and they usually develop within the first few years of your life. These are caused be a higher density of melanin in skin cells in certain areas. Although fair-skinned people are more likely to have freckles that darken in sunlight, moles are common amongst everyone with the average person having around thirty moles on their body. Sometimes freckles and moles can fade and may even disappear completely over time, but if you notice any changes in colour, prominence or size you should get yourself examined by your medical expert as it could be the early sign of skin cancer. To help prevent skin cancer you should always wear sunscreen, even if the weather is cooler.
Although doctors are highly trained in their profession they are also human and unfortunately, every so often they can make a mistake. They are also under immense pressure to meet targets in an already struggling National Health Service. With the average doctor’s appointment only lasting 10 minutes they can sometimes be limited when making an accurate diagnosis. However these mistakes can have consequences that could have been avoided if the right treatment was prescribed or if the symptoms were all spotted before developing into something more serious. It is important to remember you are always entitled to a second, third or however many opinions you require so if you believe you have suffered an injury or illness as a result of medical misdiagnosis you should seek an appointment with another doctor.
If you feel you have encountered pain and suffering, loss of earnings, medical costs or other expenses due to medical negligence, it is worth finding out more about how to make a medical misdiagnosis claim. In the first instance you should contact a legal expert who will be able to advise you on whether you have a case or not, and how you should proceed.