Do you have symptoms that are worrying you but are reluctant to see a doctor because you are scared of the outcome? Have you convinced yourself that the symptoms are not serious enough to warrant a doctor’s visit? Have you resorted to self- medication? We help you to understand common symptoms that should make you see a doctor without wasting time.
It can be hard to know when a symptom you are experiencing is an alarm bell, or just a sign you should take it easy or watch your lifestyle. But it is always important to see a doctor if you notice something different about yourself, even if you don’t feel unwell, as early detection of many illnesses is crucial. You should not think that you are wasting your time, or be worried about wasting the doctor’s time, or feel embarrassed talking about your symptoms. Doctors are there to help you and no matter what your symptoms are, or where they are, doctors have seen it all before. From the common cold to potentially more serious symptoms, here are guidelines on when you need to see a doctor.
1. Changes in your menstrual cycle
Your periods change as you get older, but if they become extremely heavy, last longer than usual, are scanty or short, you get spotting between periods or if you miss a period, you need to see a gynaecologist. These could be symptoms of a hormone imbalance, fibroids, cancer or endometrial polyps.
2. Blurred vision or frequent headaches
Blurred or double vision, blind spots, floating black spots or halos around lights need to be checked out by a doctor. If you have noticed a gradual loss of sharpness, or have trouble with night vision, you need to see an eye specialist. Eye problems can be accompanied by headaches. If this is the case, you need to have them checked regularly. The doctor will also go further to check whether the blurred vision and headaches could be coming from somewhere else, such as a growth pressing on the optical nerves or a blood clot.
3. Serious flu attack
You should see a doctor if you have a flu or cold attack that does not seem to get better. If you have a high fever accompanied with fatigue or aches; pain or pressure in the chest; wheezing or trouble breathing; a painful or persistent cough lasting longer than a week, disorientation; fainting or feeling faint; bad sinus pain; severe vomiting, swollen glands in the neck or jaw, don’t wait; see a doctor immediately. These could be life-threatening signs of severe chest infection, pneumonia or even meningitis.
4. Unexplained weight loss
This could indicate nutrient absorption disorders, an overactive thyroid, liver disease, an immune disorder such as HIV, or cancer. See a doctor if you have lost up to 10 per cent of your body weight in the past six months and have been eating normally, or have also lost your appetite.
5. Breast changes
See a doctor without wasting time if you notice anything unusual in your breasts such as a lump or thickening, rashes, skin puckering, nipple discharge, pain in the breast or armpit, a change in breast shape, or a change in nipple position or shape. These could be signs of cancer and the earlier it is detected, the better your chances for a cure are.
6. Changes in bowel habits
Diarrhoea for more than a week, constipation for more than three weeks, unexplained urges to have a bowel movement, bloody stools or severe stomach pains should be checked by a doctor. These could be signs of cancer, food poisoning, or bacterial or parasite infection.