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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
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Pocketmags Digital Magazines

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU CAN’T GET A DIAGNOSIS

You feel unwell, but don’t know the cause – and nor does your doctor. Here’s how to cope

Nearly all of us have suffered unexplained symptoms at one time or another – a feeling that something is wrong, but we’re not sure what. It could be headaches, gut issues, nausea, dizziness, a crushing tiredness or just a general sense of unwellness. For most of us, they usually pass. But for some, symptoms hang around – sometimes for months or years, and, in certain cases, the physical causes remain a mystery, even after blood tests, X-rays or other scans are done.

Patients who can’t get a diagnosis for these often debilitating symptoms can be left feeling misunderstood or helpless, which can be distressing and hard to cope with.

The NHS has a name for this: ‘medically unexplained symptoms’ – and they’re a massive part of the average GP’s caseload. They’re believed to account for up to 45 per cent of all GP appointments, and half of all new visits to hospital clinics.

‘In no medical textbook is there a chapter on this, and yet as a doctor, that is what you will spend most of your time dealing with’, says Dr Christian Jessen, GP and TV doctor. ‘That’s the great irony.’

Non-specific symptoms vary, but there are certain common ones, says Dr Keith Grimes, a GP with over 20 years’ experience and Clinical Innovation Director at Babylon Health, which offers an online doctor’s service. ‘The sort of things that are difficult to diagnose are those that can feature as the result of many different illnesses: tiredness, muscle aches and pains, headaches, dificulty concentrating, memory problems, palpitations, stomach problems, altered bowel habits and abdominal discomfort. Then, from an ear nose and throat point of view, things like dizziness and imbalance. Tinnitus [ringing in the ears] is another classic one, as well.’

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About Healthy Magazine

Welcome to the September issue of healthy! Our intimate health issue is here! The September edition of healthy seeks to end embarrassment around the topic of ‘down-there’ care and give the answers to the questions you won’t find anywhere else. From updates on endometriosis, to an empowering take on orgasms, we hope that this issue will help you to understand your body better. We’ve got a debate on whether or not watching porn can be healthy, advice on the best choice of contraception for you and tips on how you can balance your vaginal microbiome. Don’t worry – there’s no vaginal steaming and not a jade egg in sight! And that’s not all. In addition to our regular features and expert-led content, we’ve also investigated the health impact of microplastics, written about why we’re loving church hall fitness classes and shared some nutritious breakfast recipes for you to try. Plus, we’ve chatted to inspirational women who are paving the way for eco-friendly beauty. Find all this and more in the new issue of healthy.