The fear and uncertainty around COVID-19 has made many people averse to getting in touch with their doctor. Consequently, people's health is being neglected. We asked our Medical Director MATT EDWARDS to share some guidance on when you really should visit a medical professional. This first instalment concerns trips to the toilet.
As a doctor, I’m quite comfortable at dealing with issues that make others shy away and cringe. Going to the toilet is one of them - obtaining bodily fluids and examining various orifices on a daily basis makes this easier! These ‘private’ matters of health are very important for all of us to be aware of - and even more important to act on if there are changes or abnormalities.
‘Poo’ is a term used for stool or faeces - and you will be well aware of others! Whatever you call it, it’s a really important aspect of your health, because what comes out in the toilet is ‘a window to your health’: it can reveal the quality of your diet, it can show how your body’s digestive system is handling the food you eat, and it can signpost various diseases and conditions. It’s important to be aware of what is normal, what is normal for you, and when to seek advice. There is so much on this subject that cannot be covered in this blog, but I want to let you know about some clear ‘red flags’ - warning signs of something serious going on and signs of when you need to get in touch with a doctor, regardless of COVID-19. These include:
- Unexplained weight loss with abdominal pain, aged 40 years or over
- Unexplained bleeding from the backside, aged 50 years or over
- Change in bowel habit (persisting looser / harder stools), aged 60 years or over
- Bleeding from the backside with any of abdominal pain, plus change in bowel habit or weight loss, in those under 50 years
Even in these troubled times, doctors should take time to deal with other important health issues like these. Bleeding, abnormal lumps, continuing abdominal pains and changes to your normal bowel habit, all need reviewing and looking into, if persisting for longer than four weeks. Other bowel issues that need reviewing might be changes in colour, presence of mucous, frequent diarrhoea or constipation.
And so if you have health concerns - especially any covered here - then contact your doctor for advice. They will be able to discuss your symptoms, and to arrange for examination or further investigation if and when necessary. Don’t ignore your health, or put it off because of the current pandemic. Act - it might save your life!