The five most common reasons that people go to the doctor (and how to avoid them yourself)


A study conducted by the nonprofit medical practice and research group Mayo Clinic has revealed the top reasons that people visit their GP.

While you think that most people are dialling the doctor’s office (or better yet, calling Docto) to see a practitioner for conditions like heart disease or the common flu, the real reasons people are heading off to see the doctor are a little more surprising.

1. Skin disorders, including cysts, acne and dermatitis

Coming in at number one is skin disorders. Nothing takes the wind out of your sails faster than a bout of unsightly and painful skin disease. Acne and dermatitis can often manifest as lifelong and recurrent conditions, so it’s no surprise that doctors everywhere see patients for skin disorders like acne, eczema, canker sores and cysts on a daily basis.

Interestingly, while skin disease is the most common reason for doctor visits, it is usually the least detrimental to overall health. The fix? A low-sugar diet, regular exercise and sleep, gentle cleansing and keeping your mitts off is the best starting ground for eliminating acne, however the problem is often more than skin deep and relates to hormones – so if it doesn’t clear on its own, there are a range of treatment options available from your local doctor.

2. Joint disorders, including osteoarthritis

Joint disorders are extremely common as they are caused by a wide range of diseases and injuries. From sports blunders to arthritis, joint problems are one of the most common reasons that people hobble to see the doctor.

Joint pain can either be acute (short term) or chronic and treatment aims to reduce pain and inflammation and keep the joints functioning. Treatment options include medications, topical agents, injections, surgery or physical therapy and alternative treatments; often a combination of treatments forms the winning approach.

3. Back problems

They really are a pain in the back; back pain is the leading cause of disability in men aged 45 and older and is the third most common reason for medical procedures, with 80% of people experiencing back pain at some point in their lives.

Back pain is a leading cause of hospitalisation, so if you’re suffering, it’s worth checking in with Docto, the world’s first online hospital. Fortunately for you, if you’re suffering from back pain you can now use Docto to see a doctor from the comfort of home, rather than making a painful trip to the hospital waiting room (let’s face it, those chairs are never comfortable).

4. Cholesterol problems

Cholesterol is waxy substance found in all cells of the body. It helps the body make hormones and digest food, and 80% of it is produced by the liver.

Problems arise though, when LDL cholesterol (aka the “bad” cholesterol) gets clogged in the arteries; this can lead to heart disease, stroke, heart attacks, or even impotence in men.

Once you turn 35, you should start getting your cholesterol checked regularly. Or better yet, you can make some simple lifestyle changes to avoid becoming one of the 1 in 3 Australians with high cholesterol. Eat heart-healthy foods (lower your intake of saturated fats, eliminate trans-fats, eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (think salmon, walnuts and almonds). Add soluble fibre to your diet (oat bran, fruits, beans, lentils and veggies), exercise for 30 minutes a day and if you smoke – quit!!

5. Upper respiratory conditions

Upper respiratory conditions might sound like an unfamiliar term, but you’re probably familiar with one of its most popular conditions – the common cold.

Pretty much everybody has experienced a cold before; runny nose, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, congestion. The best way to avoid getting sick is by practicing good hand hygiene (wash and dry your hands regularly, particularly before meals), staying away from people who have been sick and keeping healthy with a good diet and exercise.

If you do happen to get struck down with a lurgie, one of the best things you can do is rest at home.

Pain relief medications such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can ease a headache or sore throat and decongestants in the form of cold and flu tablets and nasal sprays can provide welcome (but temporary) relief.

Drink plenty of water and get lots of rest and your cold should depart within 3 – 7 days, however lingering coughs and congestion may hang around for up to two weeks. If you’re feel like you’ve been hit particularly hard, or if your symptoms are getting worse rather than better, log into Docto and speak to a trained professional who can make sure you’re not fighting something worse like a flu or secondary infection.


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