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People’s attitudes towards their health and health care providers vary enormously. Some folks are off to see the doctor as soon as they have a tickle in their throat, while others avoid medical attention no matter how bad they feel. There are a number of reasons why such a lot of people avoid seeing a health professional even when they have potentially serious conditions, but if you’re one of them, you should think about why you stay away from doctors and dentists, and whether it’s in your best interests to do so.
Wasting the doctor’s time
Because so many people visit doctors for conditions they could manage perfectly well at home, it’s not unusual to see reminders about how to care for minor ailments, and when you should and shouldn’t see the doctor. Unfortunately, some people see this as a sign that they shouldn’t bother their health professionals unless they’re in the direst of straits. Very often that means they become far more ill than they need have done if they’d gone for treatment earlier.
Visiting the doctor is a sign of weakness
Sick people may be seen as weaker by healthy people, especially if they have numerous medical problems. It’s probably due to instinctive reactions going back to our ancestral roots. Thousands of years ago, anyone sick or weak would have put the rest of the group at risk, meaning they would be shunned or cast out.
The progress of civilization has meant we look after our sick and vulnerable citizens now, and value them as much as the well. However, that instinctive impulse is still there in our brains, and consequently, some people view going for medical help as weak. The thinking is that if you don’t visit the doctor, you must have a strong constitution. Unfortunately, it’s not a theory that holds a lot of water, because if you go without medical attention when you need it, you could end up seriously ill.
Additionally, there are three significant fears that people hold about going to the doctor or dentist, including:
1. Fear of pain
Worrying about what might happen if you visit the doctor is a common feeling. If you have a fear of needles, you might want to avoid the possibility of having to have blood taken. Maybe you’re worried about how much the examination procedure might hurt, or whether the doctor will recommend a form of treatment that sounds painful.
Fear of pain is a particular problem when it comes to visiting the dentist, despite the fantastic advances in treatments that have been made over recent years. For instance, would you be scared to have a tooth out? Your dentist would do everything they could to save your tooth of course, but extraction isn’t the painful process you might imagine if you find out more about how the procedure is carried out now. It’s thought that younger generations won’t have quite the same fear of the dentist as older people, simply because their experiences are generally positive and painless.
2. Fear of embarrassment
Is your health issue the kind of thing you don’t want anyone to know about? If you feel embarrassed about your problem, that can be a powerful motivation for not getting yourself checked out. It could be the symptoms, the location, or the cause that makes you want to keep your problem to yourself, but you should take reassurance from the fact that doctors have seen everything and won’t be surprised, shocked, or judgmental about your issue. Their only concern is to find out what’s wrong and help you get better, so any worries you have about medical staff being anything but utterly professional can be put to rest.
3. Fear of the diagnosis
Being afraid of what the doctor might say about your condition to the extent you ignore your symptoms seems counter-intuitive at first, but for many people, the fear of a poor prognosis can be crippling. It’s as if the mind is somehow able to fool itself into thinking that if you ignore the problem, it will go away. In truth, if you were diagnosed with something serious, the odds of treatment being effective are far higher if you attend in the early stages than if you leave it too long.
For example, if you find a lump in your breast, that’s bound to be scary and make you wonder if it’s something serious. There’s a good chance it won’t be anything to worry about, but if it were a tumor, taking swift action would be the best way of preventing it spreading and making your prognosis even poorer.
The advent of access to self-diagnostic tools and medical information online was a phenomenon that changed the way patients approach health care, and now one of the first actions most people take when they have symptoms that are worrying them is to do a search on Google and see if they can work out for themselves what’s wrong.
There’s certainly a great deal of valuable and accurate information available online, but there’s also a disturbing amount of misinformation and unsubstantiated facts. If you’re going to look up your symptoms, always use a reliable, reputable source for your searches, like WebMD, the Mayo Clinic, or Medline Plus. Remember, it’s easy to scare yourself and imagine you have some awful disease, but only a qualified clinician can accurately diagnose your illness.
Some folk have such a pessimistic outlook they believe that even if they went to the doctor, they wouldn’t get better. Others are such positive thinkers they believe that their constitution is strong enough to see them through, or they have complete faith in the power of the mind or their spiritual beliefs. There’s also the concern about being able to see a doctor you know and like, or face having to talk to someone you don’t know and explain everything to them. If you’ve identified with any of these reasons, or have another of your own, try to remember the bottom line. Your health is your most precious possession, and overcoming your reluctance to get yourself checked out could be the most sensible decision you ever make.