At Home with Chris Jessen 2018 - 60

Time's up,

DOC?
WITH GP APPOINTMENTS RESTRICTED TO EIGHT
MINUTES IN MANY SURGERIES, GETTING THE MOST
OUT OF YOUR TIME IN THE OFFICE IS CRUCIAL
to be triggered by anything, it will also
help your doctor unravel and prioritise
your symptoms. An unexpected bonus
may be that when your doctor reads
your symptom diary, he or she may
see patterns that you don't.

START KEEPING
A SYMPTOM DIARY

Many conditions have a genetic
element, so it's important to find out if
your relatives have had heart issues, or
cancer. It's a good idea to compile a
list of your parents', grandparents' and
siblings' medical problems.

Jot down the problems that occur
most frequently and that cause you
the most discomfort. Also make a note
of your lifestyle habits: are you
exercising, getting enough sleep, are
you stressed at work? Keeping a diary
will help you to remember everything
you will need to tell your doctor. And,
if you're presenting with an odd
assortment of issues that don't seem

DON'T FIB!

Be sure to tell your doctor everything
- no matter how insignificant it
seems. Often, it's the bits of info that
seem irrelevant to you that can give
vital clues to complete the puzzle. A
Dutch study published in the British
Medical Journal in 2016 found that
'difficult', e.g. rude or pushy, patients
were 42% more likely to be
misdiagnosed. Likewise, if your doctor
appears to be in a hurry and
interrupts as you're describing
symptoms, you're at a greater risk. In
this case, get a second opinion. Don't
be deterred if the first doctor is
dismissive, getting a second opinion
could save you a lot of trouble and
suffering further down the line.

KNOW YOUR FAMILY'S
MEDICAL HISTORY

QUESTION THE
FINDINGS

Once your doctor has settled on a
possible diagnosis, ask the following
questions - it will force them to think

060 | FEBRUARY 2018 www.athomemagazine.co.uk

about possible alternative causes for
your condition.
1 Is there anything in your medical
history that doesn't fit with the
diagnosis they have given?
2 What else could you possibly have?
3 Is it possible to have more than one
thing wrong with you?

MAKE A LIST

It can be all too easy to rush and
forget things when you finally get to
sit in front of the doctor after a long
wait. This is why it can help to write
down in bullet points exactly what
you wanted to talk to them about -
this can help you to focus under
pressure. Otherwise you could go in
worrying about a lump in your breast,
but use up your allocated time by
talking about how tired you are.

ASK FOR A REFERRAL

Work with your doctor to determine if
you have explored all of your options
for an accurate diagnosis.
It may be that after examination
and ineffective treatment, your doctor
is still not sure what is causing your
current symptoms. If you feel there is
something seriously wrong with you,
trust your instincts and ask to be
referred to a specialist. They will be
able to arrange specific tests and scans
that may pick up things your doctor
didn't have the information about.
It's better to have a doctor who
recognises when he or she is stumped
and then refers you to a specialist,
than to have one who insists that he
or she is right.

WORDS: GINA SUMMERS

E

ven in this age of
high-tech medical
screening and testing,
there is still a chance that
you could receive an
incorrect diagnosis or see a doctor
who is foxed by their particular
symptoms. So what can you do to
increase the odds that your illness
doesn't go undiagnosed?
To make a diagnosis, doctors take
the following factors into account:
your medical history (including past
health problems and conditions that
run in your family); your lifestyle
(whether you smoke, drink, exercise);
the results of any physical exams,
scans, ultrasounds and/or X-rays; and,
of course, the current symptoms that
brought you to their door.
Whether your symptoms have been
bothering you for a few days, a few
months or even years, the key is being
proactive about making yourself fully
heard to prevent potential errors in
a doctor's reasoning. Here are some
guidelines to follow to help your GP
make a speedy and accurate diagnosis.



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