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Little kids love dressing up in white lab coats, pretending to make notes on paper charts and carrying around toy stethoscopes but when it comes down to it no one enjoys going to the doctors! For many of us, we simply put off the appointment because we’ve not got the time. How often has the receptionist offered you an afternoon slot? And you stare at her like she’s got two heads because it’ll take you an hour just to get home let alone travel to the surgery. Which means a fifteen to twenty-minute appointment takes around two hours and you’re up against a deadline as it is. For others, it’s because they prefer to just deal with any illness on their own, with a little help from WebMD of course. Self-treatment has become more popular, so much so that if you’re off work for a week or less with an illness you can self-certify, there’s no need to produce a note or letter from the doctor.
No one’s saying that you need to camp out at your GP’s office as there’s such a thing as being too health obsessed, but you need to know the last time you went because if it's a case of years, instead of months, you need an annual check-up. The next thing to think about is, has anything changed since you last attended? Did those annoying headaches get worse? Are you suffering from chest pain? Does it take you longer to fall asleep than it you used to? Even the most minor complaints can be a sign of something a little more serious.
Do you remember getting a call or message to book a follow-up appointment about some test results and either forgot or were too scared to deal with what the outcome might be? If your doctor has asked to see you again, make sure you go as the chances are everything will be okay but if it’s not, you may need treatment which, for serious illnesses, can be time sensitive.
We know the temptation to just bury under the blankets is quite strong, but it’s vital that if either you, or they, have questions there’s a face-to-face meeting taking place so you can discuss everything.
Flickr At: Tina Franklin
You may be under the impression that flu is just a bad cough or cold. But it’s actually an incredibly debilitating virus that needs immediate medical attention if you’ve become so lethargic you can barely stand. The difference between a sore throat, cough or cold is that you’re able to get out of bed and struggle into work. If you’ve caught the flu, it’ll take you all your strength to get to the bathroom let alone put clothes on! A visit to the doctor is definitely in order if you can’t keep any liquid down, including water, as dehydration can be lethal if not treated.
Flu can also feel a little like glandular fever and vice versa, so it’s important you’ve got the right diagnosis as treatment can vary. Skip the GP and head straight to the ER if you’ve got problems breathing, become so dizzy you keep falling over, and there’s chest or stomach pain. Keep a mental, or paper tally about how many times you’re physically sick as severe vomiting can be a sign of something a little nastier. Flu, although much more invasive than the common cold, does eventually pass so if you’re not on the road to recovery after a few weeks seek medical assistance.
Flickr At: Nano Anderson
No matter how minor, head injuries should never be dismissed as they can cause all sorts of health complications including severe headaches, blurry vision and constant nausea. If you sat up in bed suddenly and accidentally banged your head on the wall things should be ok, check to see if the pain starts to ease after a few minutes and that the injury hasn’t drawn blood. However, if you were standing on a ladder at work, fell and smacked your head on the floor, then it’s definitely worth having it checked out even if you already went to the hospital.
The human brain is a fragile, wonderful organ but any internal bleeding can't be seen or even recognised until the person becomes sick. Concussion needs to be treated immediately, especially if a head injury is accompanied by vomiting, a sharp, stabbing headache or a visible head wound that needs stitches. There are also a few groups of people that, no matter how mild the bump is, should always be seen by a medical professional. These include young children, pregnant women, anyone with an underlying health conditions and senior citizens.
Flickr At: kizzzbeth
Annoyingly, headaches can be caused by a multitude of different things including food allergies, migraines, lack of sleep, stress and not enough water. Which means if you’re on a low income it’s super hard to shell out hundreds of dollars on health care only to be told you’re allergic to tomatoes! However, there are schemes such as Nationwide Prescription Connection that allow you to spread your healthcare costs, as well as being able to give you a discount on expensive medication and offering free health advice to all their members.
Not only will this help keep the panic rat at bay about how you’re going to pay for your prescription but you’ll feel ok about getting a nagging headache looked at. Remember, it’s rare but headaches accompanied by dizziness, vomiting, feeling faint, and blackouts can be signs of a brain tumor or aneurysm.
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It’s normal to feel a bit out of breath after a five-mile run but if you’re fighting to breathe after climbing the stairs something’s amiss. Chest pain isn’t something you should leave to chance, especially if you’re overweight, suffer from high blood pressure or have severe heartburn. Don’t wait to see if it gets better and call 911 immediately if you or someone else is complaining of spreading pain, pressure, sweating and vomiting plus an uneven pulse. Heart attacks do happen, in particular to those who already suffer from heart problems and they can be fast, violent and often fatal.