Monday, November 28, 2022

My son found blood in his stool, waiting for an appointment is ridiculous please help

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There is no subject that you would be too embarrassed to discuss with your GP. In all honesty, we’ve seen, heard and investigated it all!

There’s nothing you can really surprise us with.

dr Zoe Williams answers some frequently asked questions from readers

Because of this, you don’t need to procrastinate on checking something you’re worried about.

That’s what we’re here for, so don’t be shy, whether it’s a gut issue, a weird lump, or something that just doesn’t feel right!

Here’s what readers asked me this week.

Q) OUR 31 year old son recently found blood in his stool.

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He had a test done and the doctors told him it could be several things. One of them is Crohn’s disease as it also gets bloated from certain foods and gets very tired.

He had a letter to make an appointment at the hospital for a camera exam.

However, he was told he would have to wait 78 weeks for just one appointment.

We’re at our wits end trying to get one sooner. Any advice on what else we can do?


A) UNDERSTANDABLE you must be feeling anxious. Seventy-eight weeks sounds like a really long time

When referrals are sent to hospital specialists, they are usually triaged by a registered nurse or doctor.

You can prioritize who needs to be seen most, and appointments will then be offered accordingly.

Unfortunately, waiting times are currently long in many cases, as hospitals are still recovering from the aftermath of the pandemic.

But one silver lining to a long wait is that the clinician who reviewed your son’s case isn’t overly concerned.

A certain reassurance can sometimes be drawn from this result. If your son has waited more than 18 weeks and is willing to travel further to be seen sooner, you are entitled to be seen at another NHS trust. Find out more at healthcompare.co.uk.

Things can change while you wait and if this happens to your son, particularly if new symptoms appear or if the severity increases, it’s important that he informs his GP immediately.

If needed, a GP can add this additional information to the referral and it can be re-triaged, sometimes resulting in appointments being brought forward.

It’s really great that your son checked his bowel movements and still went to his GP. It’s important that we all get in the habit of looking at our poop. By noticing things like the presence of blood or other persistent changes, you can spot symptoms before things get too severe.

For those who have blood stains, your GP may ask if it’s mixed with the stool or it’s just covering or on the tissue when wiping, as this can give clues as to the cause.

If it’s on the outside or when wiping, then the bleeding is more likely near the anus, and a common cause of this is hemorrhoids or an anal fissure.

Blood mixed with the stool is more likely to come from deeper in the intestines and sometimes blood can be partially digested, for example coming from the level of the stomach, and can appear black, sticky and tarry – we call this melena.

It is important to remember not to self-diagnose as this is only one factor in evaluating the possible cause and serious conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, colon cancer and peptic ulcer disease must be considered.

An abdominal exam is usually required, and sometimes a rectal exam. Blood tests are particularly helpful, and camera tests looking at the lining of the colon are the best way to make a definitive diagnosis, but other imaging tests exist.

Q) I READ an article in Sun Health about dementia and think I might have it. I repeat myself constantly, have mood swings, sleep poorly and am forgetful.

Is there anything I can do to keep it from getting worse? i am 59

A) YES, there is and it is important that you see your GP as soon as possible. Although there is still no cure for dementia, there are treatments that can slow its progression.

The earlier the diagnosis is made, the more effective they are. There are also many other things that could be causing your symptoms, so your GP will most likely want to run a series of tests to cover all the bases.

Other causes include infections, thyroid problems, circulatory problems, vitamin deficiencies, sleep apnea, stress and depression.

Although it is by no means certain that you have dementia – and it is not advisable to self-diagnose – please do not hesitate to make this appointment!

Sometimes when there are memory problems it is helpful for the GP to also talk to someone close to you to see what changes they have noticed.

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Q) I NEED help with anxiety and drowsiness. Every day it feels like I’m going to pass out.

A) Physical and emotional symptoms can be caused by anxiety, and feeling dizzy, like you’re going to faint, is a real physical symptom.

Others include nausea, tremors, sweating, very dry mouth, rapid heart rate, and headaches. Anxiety releases stress hormones like adrenaline that cause these symptoms.

There are non-drug treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy and counseling. Antidepressants can also be helpful.

One of the most effective ways to treat anxiety is through self-help strategies. Exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety just as effectively as medication. Start with daily walking or work your way up to running with the NHS Couch To 5k app.

There are apps like Calm and Headspace and tons of relaxation techniques online. Studies have shown that breathing techniques are helpful. Keep a journal to note which situations are more prone to dizziness.

Once you recognize where they are most common, you can begin to frame them. If work meetings make you nervous, explain how you’re feeling to your line manager and see if there’s a way to manage your anxiety.

Talking about it gives you some strength because it no longer becomes what you are hiding or afraid to reveal. Good luck and let me know how you’re doing.

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