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Worrying symptoms? When to see your doctor

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The health services in the UK are under increasing pressure, and simply securing an appointment with your doctor often seems like an uphill struggle.

Typically, you try to access medical assistance as you are concerned that some symptom or other aspect of your health needs attention, but are often met with the news that you will have to wait days or even weeks before a doctor can see you.

Depending on the nature of the ailment, by the point you actually see a doctor, it could have gone away on its own, or got much worse.

In 2017, the UK’s average waiting time for a doctor’s appointment was thirteen days (1), but over 40% of patients ended up waiting more than a fortnight.

However, this period is eclipsed when compared to the same pinch being felt by the US, where the average wait for an appointment is twenty-four days.

In Boston, patients have to wait an average of fifty-two days to see a doctor!

When to book a doctor's appointment

This can present a real issue for those patients who are not necessarily ill but have noticed symptoms that could be a sign of a more serious condition.

They know that they should consult with a GP before any early signs potentially get worse - after all, they are always told to do so by awareness campaigns - but they don’t want to be wasting a doctor’s time that could be given to a person who is actually ill. Male patients are particularly in the habit of putting off medical attention, but this can have devastating consequences.

If you notice any symptoms that worry you, or changes that don’t feel quite right, cast aside any doubt and get to your GP as soon as possible.

If the symptoms turn out to be benign, they will be happy to put your mind at ease, but if there is something more serious, they will be glad to have spotted it early. Here are some of the symptoms you should always get a medical opinion on.


Most of the time breathlessness is a normal reaction to high altitude or periods of vigorous exercise, and the severity of the breathlessness you experience will depend on how physically fit you are.

But breathlessness that has not been prompted by such triggers can be a sign of an underlying condition, particularly if accompanied by other symptoms.

The causes of breathlessness can range from allergies to anxiety, but gradual emergence of symptoms can be an indication of a heart, lung or blood vessel problem, so it's vital you get checked out.

If you have other symptoms that you think may be caused by an allergy then you can take an at-home allergy test from Klarify to see if you might be allegric to a substance.  If you are, then book an appointment with your doctor for an official diagnosis and treatment plan if available. 

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Unexpected loss of weight

Weight loss is among the most desirable of symptoms, and with so many people working very hard to lose weight, the idea of doing so without trying sounds ideal.

But in cases where steps have not been taken to lose weight, and body mass is still dropping, it could be brought on by a range of triggers.

Stress is well known to cause unexplained weight loss, so difficult periods in life can be the root of such symptoms in the short term.

Over a longer period, however, unexplained weight loss can be attributed to conditions such as Parkinson’s, stomach ulcers, diabetes, thyroid issues or even cancer.

Unquenchable thirst

Of course, we depend on water greatly and feeling thirsty is simply the body’s way of reminding you to get a top up when you need it.

Most recent medical advice suggests that one to two litres of drinking water a day should suffice, but warm climates, high salt intake and frequent exercise will cause increased thirst.

But if you begin to notice that no matter what or how much you drink, you feel thirsty, can cause serious damage quite quickly.

Illnesses that cause vomiting or diarrhoea can lead to dehydration; while thirst accompanied by fatigue and blurred vision can be an indication of diabetes.

These conditions are easily treated, but can be dangerous, so make sure to get it looked at sooner rather than later.

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Head pain

Headaches are very common, and most people get one every now and then.

They can be brought on by any number of triggers, such as cold or flu, dehydration, hangover and eye strain.

However, if you are experiencing headaches for long periods or with regularity, and if they are accompanied by other symptoms, then seek medical attention.

If you feel nauseous and overly sensitive to light during headaches, it may suggest you are suffering from migraines, while jaw pain and double vision could indicate inflamed arteries, which should be looked at urgently.

Headaches following an injury, especially along with stiff neck, confusion or drowsiness, should be referred to an emergency medical unit.

Moles and freckles

Freckles and moles tend to develop in the first few years of life, and are a result of areas dense in melanin within the cells of the skin.

Freckles are common in fair skinned people and can darken in sunlight, and moles are also common, with the average person having around thirty of them on their bodies.

Freckles and moles can fade or completely disappear over time, but any changes in size, colour or prominence should be examined by a medical expert, as it may be an early sign of skin cancers.


Doctors are highly skilled and well educated professionals, but they are human, and every now and then, they can make a mistake.

Not to mention, they are under great pressure to meet certain targets, and this can prevent doctors from taking the time they need to make an accurate diagnosis.

Such mistakes can have significant consequences, whether the wrong treatment is prescribed, or missed symptoms develop into a serious condition. If you believe you have suffered an illness or injury as a result of medical misdiagnosis, immediately seek the assistance of another doctor.

It’s perfectly acceptable for you to seek a second opinion and you shouldn’t fear doing so if you feel something is amiss with your first doctor’s advice.  Medicine is not an exact science and a second opinion could see a treatment plan that is better suited to you and save time and money.

If you were originally misdiagnosed, then you might also be entitled to compensation for medical costs, pain and suffering, loss of earnings and other expenses.

To find out how to make medical negligence compensation claim in the UK, consult a legal expert who is a specialist in this field and who will advise you how to proceed.


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