Average person delays seeking medical advice for five months

Three-quarters of adults admit to “putting up” with an annoying or worrying health condition rather than seeking medical advice, with the average person waiting for more than five months before going to their GP or another health professional, according to a study.

A poll of 2,000 people commissioned by Hidden Hearing found that one in 20 waited at least a year before pursuing medical advice for complaints such as hearing problems, headaches or back pain.

The research also found almost half delayed getting a health check-up as they did not want, as they felt it, to “waste” the health professional’s time. Yet more than 40% claimed their condition got worse because they had delayed seeking help.

Other health issues people said they had commonly postponed getting checked out included lack of energy, muscle aches, toothache, digestion and stomach pain.

Medical broadcaster Dr Hilary Jones said: “It’s worrying to not only see how long people are leaving things before they seek help from a professional, but also that conditions such as hearing loss are on this list.

“This symptom now has strong links to other serious health conditions such as dementia, depression, heart health and diabetes.

“It’s important to get anything which is causing you concern checked out at the earliest opportunity.”

Two in five people admitted that they had never had a hearing test despite concerns they might have a hearing issue.

Dr Laura Phipps from Alzheimer’s Research UK highlighted that hearing difficulties may be linked to several types of dementia, so hearing tests were essential for people with concerns.

She said: “The reasons behind this link are still being explored, but given the large number of people affected by hearing problems, it’s an important area of research.

“Alzheimer’s Research UK is funding a study to understand more about the link between hearing loss and dementia, and to understand whether supporting people in wearing their hearing aids could have wider benefits beyond just hearing.”

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