Some people have persistent medical symptoms, such as dizziness or pain, that don’t appear to be obvious symptoms of a particular condition. These are known as ‘medically unexplained symptoms’ when they last for more than a few weeks, but doctors cannot find a case.
How Your GP Can Help
Your GP will aim to rule out all the possible conditions that might be causing the symptoms. You will likely have a thorough physical examination and blood tests.
If you are taking any medication, you will need to rule out that this is not the cause of what you’re experiencing. For example, if you often take painkillers, this can lead to painkiller headaches.
Your GP should also look into whether there is an associated problem, such as depression or anxiety. Physical symptoms can cause depression or anxiety, and these conditions can then make the symptoms worse.
Tell your GP if:
- What your symptoms are like, when they started, and what makes them better or worse.
- What you think could be the cause of your symptoms and any expectations of how tests and treatments could help you.
- How your symptoms affect what you can do.
- How upsetting your symptoms are.
You and your doctor could work together to find some lifestyle changes that you think might relieve some of your symptoms, such as getting more sleep or more physical exercise.
You might be referred for talking therapy to help you cope, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). The aim of this therapy is to help you to manage your symptoms by helping you to understand the links between your symptoms, feelings, and your ability to cope.
If your symptoms are caused by nervous system problem, then you might be referred to a neurologist, who specialises in disorders of the nervous system. The neurologist may then refer you for psychotherapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, or for further investigation via scans like Computed Tomography (visit website to find out more).
Medications like anti-depressants can be helpful, even if you aren’t depressed. Medication isn’t always the right answer, however. Painkillers or sedatives can lead you to become dependant on them. The benefits of taking a medication should be weighed against the potential side effects.
If you think your doctor has missed an underlying condition, remember that you can seek a second opinion from another doctor at any time.
There are things that you can do yourself to improve and relieve physical symptoms, including regular exercise or managing stress.
Exercise keeps you fit and is a good way to boost your mood. How much exercise you do will depend on your current abilities and health.
It’s very important to manage stress, as stress is often linked to problems like pain and IBS. Breathing exercise can be an effective tool to manage stress in the moment. Another effective method is to plan some pleasurable personal time to unwind. This can be anything that helps you to relax, like yoga, swimming, running, meditation, or walking.