FOR many of us, the coronavirus pandemic has left us anxious about visiting our GP.
But since cases were driven down, the NHS has repeatedly said it’s open – and urged people to seek help if they are suffering from health issues.
And now experts have warned that excess deaths caused by undiagnosed illnesses will be greater than those caused by Covid-19.
Earlier this week it was reported that there could be around 3,500 potentially avoidable cancer deaths over the next five years in England.
Doctors are also concerned that people might dismiss the signs of some serious other illnesses too.
Dr Katrina Herren, Chief Clinical Officer at Doctorlink said while it’s understandable that people are anxious – they must seek help if they are having symptoms that are impacting their lives.
She added: “Although the pandemic is extremely serious, people must be reassured that the NHS still has systems in place to treat all manners of conditions – heart attacks and strokes don’t stop for coronavirus.
“Here are some of the most urgent health symptoms which I would urge you never to ignore, as they could be an indication of a serious health issue.”
1. Chest pain
Dr Katrina said that if you are experiencing chest pain which feels tight, band-like, or a squeezing sensation in the centre or left side of your chest, you may be experiencing a heart attack and you should call 999 immediately.
“This is particularly important for those who are at risk of coronary heart disease – for example, if you smoke, are obese, or have high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol”, she added.
2. Difficulty speaking
If your speech is garbled or you are mixing your words then you may have had a stroke, Dr Katrina says.
“Other symptoms include a drooping of the face, an inability to hold both arms up and the severe onset of an extremely severe headache, which almost feels like a clap of thunder.
“You should call 999 immediately, or ask someone else to if possible.”
3. Unquenchable thirst
Dr Katrina said that if you’ve found you are most thirsty than usual and no matter how much you drink your thirst isn’t satisfied, this may be an indication of diabetes.
“This often comes alongside unexplained weight loss, extreme tiredness and passing more urine than usual”, she added.
4. Sudden swelling
Dudden swelling of the eyes, lips, mouth, throat or tongue are often indications of an allergic reaction or infection.
Dr Katrina says that whilst most allergies aren’t fatal, when they involve your lips or tongue, the airways can be affected too, leading to swelling and constricting, which can quickly make breathing difficult.
She said: “If you are a known allergy sufferer, use your epi-pen if you are experiencing these symptoms and call 999.”
5. Unusual bleeding
Dr Katrina said undiagnosed rectal bleeding, which isn’t due to haemorrhoids, could be an indication of bowel cancer.
She added: “Abnormal vaginal bleeding after the menopause or after sex may be a sign of cervical or endometrial cancer and blood in your urine could be a sign of bladder or kidney cancer.
“If you are experiencing any persistent, unusual bleeding, make sure to book an appointment with your GP.”
6. Change in bowel habits
Another sign of bowel cancer, Dr Katrina says, is a persistent change in your bowel habits.
“Which is usually having to use the toilet more and your stools also become runnier.”
She said this could be a sign of bowel cancer – especially if you are over 50 and have also experienced unexplained weight loss and abdominal pain.
Again she said it’s vital that people book an appointment with their GP to discuss the symptoms.
7. Chronic cough
Dr Katrina says that smokers over the age of 40 with a chronic undiagnosed cough, could have lung cancer.
“This can often come hand in hand with weight loss without trying to do so.
“If you experience any of these symptoms, please see your GP”, she added.