ON THE COVER

My Weekly’s favourite GP from TV and ra­dio writes for you

My Weekly - - Contents - Dr Sarah Jarvis

The body is a com­plex thing. Some­times your GP won’t have a di­ag­no­sis straight away – blood tests may nar­row the pos­si­bil­i­ties, with a fur­ther set of tests de­pend­ing on the re­sults. Read on for clues as to what they’re look­ing for.

Short­ness of breath with wheeze, worse if you have a cold, ex­er­cise or come into con­tact with an­i­mals, may be asthma. It’s more com­mon if you’ve had symp­toms from child­hood or if con­di­tions like eczema or hay fever run in your fam­ily.

If you get short of breath ly­ing flat as well as when you ex­er­cise, and have swollen an­kles or a bloated tummy, that could mean heart fail­ure. If you tell your doc­tor you’re breath­less they may ask how many pil­lows you sleep with! They’ll be look­ing for swelling in your an­kles that leaves a dent when you press it, and fine crack­les in the base of your lungs. If they sus­pect it they’ll want a chest X-ray and a heart scan (echocar­dio­gram) to see how well your heart is pump­ing.

If you’ve been a smoker for years and get short of breath, your doc­tor will want to know if you have a “smoker’s cough” or get lots of chest in­fec­tions. That could sug­gest the lung con­di­tion COPD, usu­ally but not al­ways linked to smok­ing. Less com­monly anaemia or be­ing ex­posed to pi­geons, coal or as­bestos can dam­age lungs, so be ready to re­veal your hob­bies and job. Fatty lumps in your eye­lids can be a sign of an in­her­ited con­di­tion called FH, which leads to raised choles­terol and heart at­tacks. Your doc­tor is likely to check your knuck­les and the back of your an­kles for other fatty de­posits.

WHITE SPOTS ON YOUR NAILS ARE USU­ALLY DOWN TO MI­NOR KNOCKS RATHER THAN SE­RI­OUS CON­DI­TIONS LIKE LOW (OR HIGH) CAL­CIUM

If your doc­tor is look­ing for swollen glands they may check your neck, armpits and groin.

Yel­low­ing of the whites of your eyes is usu­ally caused by jaun­dice, of­ten down to liver prob­lems – your doc­tor will want to check your liver (in the top right of your tummy).

Pit­ted nails can be a sign of pso­ri­a­sis – your GP may check your el­bows, knees and scalp.

A lump on the front of your neck may be a goitre – an en­larged thy­roid gland. Your GP will want to check your heart rate (of­ten raised in over­ac­tive thy­roid).

If you have water­works symp­toms, al­ways take a urine sam­ple with you – your GP can of­ten check it in the surgery, and may want to send it to the lab as well. If you’re a man, they may also want to check your prostate, which in­volves putting a fin­ger into your back pas­sage.

If you go in with per­sis­tent bloat­ing, pelvic pain, un­usual vagi­nal bleed­ing or dis­charge, ex­pect an in­ter­nal ex­am­i­na­tion. Your doc­tor will be as gen­tle as pos­si­ble and should of­fer a chap­er­one.

Tired­ness can be caused by a host of med­i­cal prob­lems though 75% of the time no phys­i­cal cause is found. They’ll want to do blood tests to check your kid­neys, liver, blood count (for anaemia), thy­roid func­tion, glu­cose (for di­a­betes) and a test called CRP or ESR to check for in­flam­ma­tion.

Dizzi­ness can be down to in­ner ear prob­lems (your GP will check your eye move­ments); low blood pres­sure when you stand up (blood pres­sure sit­ting and af­ter you’ve stood for a minute); ab­nor­mal heart rhythms (blood pres­sure and heart ex­am­i­na­tion); or anaemia (your in­ner eye­lids).

If you have pal­pi­ta­tions, your doc­tor will prob­a­bly re­fer you for an ECG – a heart trac­ing that shows up ab­nor­mal heart rhythms – ei­ther done on the spot or us­ing a ma­chine you wear for 24 hours to de­tect ab­nor­mal­i­ties. Next week: Fo­cus­ing on good eye health

“RE­FERRED PAIN” WHICH COMES FROM ONE AREA BUT IS FELT IN AN­OTHER IS COM­MON. EAR PAIN MAY COME FROM YOUR THROAT, FOR IN­STANCE

There’s method in those odd ques­tions!

IF YOU EVER HAVE ANY WATER­WORKS SYMP­TOMS, AL­WAYS TAKE A URINE SAM­PLE

YOU’’ WITH

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