But many of us chicken out of going to see a health professional for various reasons. Here’s how to deal with our fears by Mignonne Dsouza
How many of us go to see a doctor when we have a simple cold, cough, fever or upset tummy? Generally, we try and cure ourselves. Many of us avoid healthcare professionals if we can possibly help it, making us the exact opposite of hypochondriacs. Here’s why we behave so irrationally – and how we can deal with our fears.
Frequently, it’s the fear of the unknown that leads to us to skip visits to doctors, dentists and avoid any kind of health check-up. Says Dr Deepak Kriplani, a Mumbai-based GP, “People see the doctor as an unnecessary expense. Kids also tend to be scared of going to doctors, because adults tell them that the doctor will give them an injection if they have been naughty. Still others refuse to see a doctor as they are scared their cough or cold may turn out to be something else.”
So what does he do in such circumstances? “There’s no use telling people they are in the wrong by delaying seeing a doctor,” says Dr Kriplani. “All you can do is put them at their ease and then treat them.”
IT professional Clive Fernandes is a self-confessed ‘avoider of doctors’. “I usually skip going to my GP if I have a cold, mild fever, or a small wound,” he says. “I don’t like taking tablets, so I prefer to let it resolve on its own. I only go to the doctor when it’s something major.” Explains Dr Maxim D’Mello, a GP, “Doctors don’t over-medicate patients. There are many antibiotics with milder side effects that can be prescribed. Also, very often, we tell patients they need to rest for a minimum of two to three days to allow their bodies to fight off infections. But very few take this advice – most, due to work pressures, want a quick fix.”
The Great GP Hunt
As our cities fill up with people who have moved there from other places, it becomes a challenge to find a GP we trust. Vidhya Narayanan, a deputy manager with an MNC, who grew up in Mumbai but now lives in Bangalore, has still not found a good GP to replace her trusted family doctor.
“I used to suffer from a recurrent rash. I went to a nearby GP. He asked if I had noticed any pattern to these episodes, I told him it may be an allergy to mushrooms, since it sometimes happened after I had mushrooms, although I had never been allergic to them before. He gave me anti-allergy medication. But the rash persisted. When I went home and checked with the family doctor, I was told that it was a simple heat rash.”
Now, Narayanan says she’s lost faith in GPs and copes with simple illness either by “self medication, reading up stuff on the Net, or in rare cases, calling my family doctor in Mumbai.”
Dr Kriplani’s advice for people on the hunt for a GP: “Till you find a family doctor you can trust,” he says, “the best thing to do, when you are ill, is go to the nearest big hospital in your area. This will ensure that you receive a good level of medical care.”
Adds Dr D’Mello, “Look for a GP who holds an MBBS and has a reasonable level of experience. Also, carry a brief medical history of yourself from your family doctor, listing the drugs you cannot tolerate, for example, so the new GP can treat you better.”
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