10 things you shouldn't hide from your GP and why

Posted on: 12 November 2019 by Riccardo Di Cuffa

While small health changes may seem insignificant to you, they may help identify more serious issues. Dr Riccardo Di Cuffa explains why.

“Being open to your GP about any health worries is really important.  Some things may seem a little embarrassing for us to talk about but remember that doctors have seen it all countless times and having an examination or showing your doctor a lump may just save your life.  If you have something that doesn’t feel or look quite right, always book an appointment and tell your GP all your symptoms, so they can either help or put your mind at ease.  Here are some things you should never hide from your GP.

unexplained weight loss

Unexplained weight loss

It is important for everyone to monitor their weight, and noticing an unexpected change in weight should not be overlooked. Unexplained weight loss for example is a symptom associated with type 2 diabetes. It is estimated that 1 in 17 people in the UK have diabetes – diagnosed and undiagnosed. If type 2 diabetes goes untreated it can lead to various health problems such as kidney damage, eye damage and increases the risk of heart disease. So, if you feel you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed, we encourage you to contact your GP talk about these problems as soon as possible.

Feeling faint or fainting

Feeling faint or fainting is relatively common, and most people have experienced this feeling at least once in their lifetime. Fainting or syncope is caused by a temporary reduction of blood flow and/ or oxygen to the brain. It is often caused by a trigger which may be something like an unpleasant sight, heat, shock, standing up suddenly or dehydration. However, there are some more serious conditions which may trigger you to faint or feel faint such as neurological conditions or diabetes. For this reason, a fainting episode is always best discussed with your GP.

Sharp pain in head or eyes

A sharp pain in the eyes or head is usually nothing to be too concerned over and may be linked to medical problems such as sinusitis or a migraine. Still seek medical advice if you find yourself experiencing these symptoms because in rare cases you could be at risk for seizures, blood clots and brain damage.

don't ignore stress

If you are overly stressed

Although we all experience stress throughout our lives and a little stress is good for us, sometimes things can feel overwhelming. Too much stress is a major health issue that can put you at risk of heart attack, stroke and mental health issues, as well as affect your relationships and work.   It is important to share this with your doctor because they be able to find ways to help you cope.

Lumps, bumps and moles

Although most lumps and bumps are normal, it is important to always get them checked by your GP especially if they grow in shape or size, become painful or red and if they are found in specific areas such as the breasts or testicles.

blood and urine test

Blood in stool or urine

Although finding blood in your stool is relatively common, it is always something you should flag with your GP. Rectal bleeding can be a sign of bowel cancer, and therefore should always be checked. Similarly, blood in urine is also something you must discuss with your GP, even if it has only happened once and you have no other symptoms. Also if you find you are passing stools or urinating very frequently, straining whilst you urinate or have a feeling that you haven’t completely emptied your bladder, visit your GP to get things checked out.

Taking herbal supplements

Although herbal supplements may seem harmless, they can cause adverse side effects and there is little evidence to show that many of them actually work. Supplements can also worryingly interfere with other medicines such as chemotherapy and warfarin to name just two and aren’t always as holistic as they seem.  Always check with your GP if the supplements you wish to take are ok for you.

risks from smoking

Whether you smoke or not

Those that deny to health professionals that they smoke typically tend to be the occasional or ‘social smoker’. By only smoking here and there you are still putting your health at severe risk. If you smoke at all then you are a smoker no matter how few cigarettes you smoke. By letting your GP know they can provide you with the necessary advice if you wish to give up and you are far more likely to be able to get rid of the habit entirely. Smoking causes 84% of lung cancer related deaths in the UK.

Sleeping pills

You take sleeping pills

These days we are often not sleeping enough and in order to function and feel our best, some of us turn to sleeping pills.  Never take them without medical guidance or buy them off the internet. It is important to also understand that they can cause constipation, diarrhoea, daytime drowsiness and dizziness and there are risks associated with sleeping tablets including addiction and long term health issues.  There are alternative ways to help with sleep, so seek advice from a GP before taking sleeping pills or let your GP prescribe the right ones.

limit alcoholic intake

How much alcohol you drink

Both men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week. It is important to note that these units should be spread over the course of the week rather than being consumed at once on the weekend! Drinking in moderation is ok but drinking too much can cause damaging effects to your heart and liver disease and is associated with cancer. If you’re worried you drink too much, try having dry days. Tell your GP so they can help support you.

www.your-doctor.co.uk

 

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