Waiting times to get an appointment to see a doctor in the UK have been growing exponentially in recent years, with research finding that in 2017, patients had to wait an average of ten days longer to see a doctor than they did just two years earlier. In some cases, this has prompted people to ignore or put up with problems that they assume will be a waste of a GP’s highly sought-after time, with over one million patients missing out on doctor appointments on a weekly basis in the UK.
While some of these will be able to get through their ailment with self-care or alternative approaches, this deficit also means a great deal of early symptoms related to serious conditions will be missed. A considerable number of serious illnesses and conditions display fairly mundane symptoms early on that can be mistaken for other, less serious, ailments, and if these are not addressed soon by a medical professional, they can have terrible consequences. Here are some of the symptoms that may seem harmless, but you should definitely get a medical opinion on, and what to do if you find your symptoms misdiagnosed.
There are plenty of people who actively want to lose weight, and take steps to do so, but if sudden weight loss occurs without any effort or any external factors seeming to cause it, a doctor should be notified. Fully grown adults who lose 5% or more of their body mass within six to twelve months without making the effort to do so should seek medical attention. Although weight gain and loss can be attributed to a number of factors, not limited to calorie intake and exercise, sudden weight loss can be related to depression, dementia, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, hyperthyroidism and diabetes.
Shortness of Breath
There are a number of instances in which being short of breath for a while are completely normal and healthy, such as during or immediately after exercise or sex, during pregnancy, or when in high-altitude locations. However, it can also be a sign of something much more serious. If you notice shortness of breath when you are not particularly active, or if it is accompanied by other symptoms, such as wheezing, pain in other parts of the body, sweating or fatigue, it could be an indication of a serious condition, so make sure to seek immediate medical attention.
Headaches can be caused by a surprisingly wide range of triggers, from stress and dehydration to hormones and and particular foods. In many cases they are nothing to worry about, and can be treated with painkillers and rest, but in some instances, there could be something more to headaches. If a headache follows on from a head injury, or is accompanied by a fever, vomiting or nausea, or is severe and not normal for you, a doctor should be informed. Similarly, if you notice any neurological indicators with the headache, such as numbness, tingling, dizziness, twitching or stiffness in the rest of the body, seek medical attention. If you experience headaches more than three times a week and they do not subside with painkillers, go and see a doctor.
New Freckles and Moles
On average, people have anywhere between thirty to 400 moles on their body, and the majority of them are perfectly healthy and do not present any threats. However, as many people know, moles, freckles and other skin pigmentations can be precursors to forms of skin cancer. While the formation of new moles or other marks on the skin are usually harmless, medical attention should be sought if they appear irregular in shape, jagged around the edges, variant in colour, larger than 6mm, itchy or painful, or if they change appearance.
Thirst is one of the most normal and important feelings we can experience, and in many cases, making sure that you consume the recommended 1.2 litres of water per day, there should be no problems, and you should stay adequately hydrated. But if you feel a constant thirst that no amount of liquid seems to quench, it could be a sign of a more serious condition. Particularly if paired with dizziness, nausea, fatigue or blurred vision, unquenchable thirst could be an early indication of diabetes, while it could also point to low blood pressure and anaemia. Of course, salty food, hot climates and exercise are normal and natural causes of thirst, but if the problem persists, a doctor should be seen.
Medical Opinion and Misdiagnosis
Although the NHS is one of the world’s strongest and highest quality healthcare services, medical misdiagnosis does still occur. An estimated 24500 patients are misdiagnosed on a yearly basis, and although many of these cases do not lead to any serious long-term issues, some miss indications of severe conditions. If you seek medical attention for an issue and you don’t feel satisfied with the diagnosis they give, make sure to go to another doctor and get a second opinion.
If after seeing a number of doctors, you find that their diagnoses were incorrect, and as a result, you suffer an injury or illness relating to their medical misdiagnosis, you should seek the advice of a legal professional who specialises in cases relating to medical negligence and diagnosis. An expert can look at the particulars of your case, and give a legal insight into where liability is attributed, and if they feel your circumstances make you eligible, they can help you file a claim for compensation for medical negligence. A compensation claim can help you reach a settlement that will enable you to afford the necessary treatment and care to deal with the injury or condition that resulted from misdiagnosis, and offer you support during such a difficult time.