Style & ShowbizHealth

A low-down on self-diagnosis

HealthBy Sunday World
A low-down on self-diagnosis

In this day and age it's tempting to hop onto Google and search symptoms to find out what's wrong with you. But the search engine doesn't necessarily give the right answers and you may end up diagnosing yourself with something far less serious than what you have, or vice versa. Hypochondria, a form of health anxiety, can also blur your judgement, so we've gone about clearing some worries up for you.

Stomach upset or Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

It's almost impossible to focus on anything else when suffering with a bad tummy. Shona Wilkinson, Head Nutritionist at Nutri Centre, has shared some tips on how to tell whether you're suffering from food poisoning. "The fever, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea can be severe but tend to clear after 24-48 hours," she explained. "It would be difficult to confuse this with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)."

IBS is more chronic, with symptoms including wind, bloating and fluctuating bowel movements. Shona notes that it can go overlooked for a long time, especially when post infective. "This occurs when the inflammation and infection, which was responsible for the food poisoning, leaves the delicate bowel lining over-sensitive long after the initial infection passes," she added. "Such super-sensitivity makes the gut react to its own natural movements, causing cramping pains that are often only eased by passing wind or going to the toilet."

Headache or migraine?

While tension headaches can be severe and cause muscles in the neck and shoulders to tighten up, resulting in a pain behind the eyes or over the temple, migraines are more complex. They're a mixture of chemical and circulatory irregularities, triggering a lot of pain. Anything from hormone imbalance, often seen in women around menstruation, stress and dental problems can contribute to a migraine.

So when do you know when you're suffering from one? "Migraines follow a two-phase attack," Shona explains. "The initial symptoms include flashing lights in the eyes (related to a reduction in circulation) followed by the pounding headache (as the circulation changes again and blood vessels expand and push on the pain sensitive covering of the brain)."

Eczema or psoriasis?

An eczema rash is often an irregular shape and isn't evenly distributed over the body. It's mostly found in creases, like the knee or armpit. Meanwhile psoriasis is typically round, raised and has a disc-like appearance, occurring on the outer surfaces of arms, legs or around your torso and on the scalp. You can treat both in a similar way, as Sonja Dymalovski, skincare expert at What Skin Needs, explains. "Keeping the skin moist and nourished from the outside is crucial, as it can bring instant relief from itchiness and discomfort," she says. "However, emollient creams that are often recommended by doctors and pharmacists, rarely provide long-term relief. What’s more, they can even irritate already inflamed skin, as very often they contain chemicals, such as chlorocresol and cetearyl alcohol. Instead, try a natural cream or balm."

But remember: only a doctor can diagnose you correctly so if you're worried, make an appointment with your GP immediately.

Cover Media