Don’t ignore it, tell your doctor

Waltham Forest GPs are encouraging local residents not to ignore symptoms and to tell their doctor if they notice themselves getting out of breath doing things they used to be able to do, or if they’ve had a persistent cough for three weeks or more. 

A persistent cough or inappropriate breathlessness during everyday activities such as vacuuming or mowing the lawn could be symptoms of a variety of conditions, including cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and, in the case of breathlessness, heart disease. 

Diagnosing lung and heart disease early makes them more treatable and can help with the management of some conditions, such as COPD, and improve the quality of life for people living with them. Lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet and quit smoking can greatly reduce the chances of lung and heart disease. 

Dr Anwar Khan, local GP and chair of NHS Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group said: “If you notice any differences in your breathing such as shortness of breath or a persistent cough for more than three weeks, tell your GP.  

“The symptoms might not be anything serious, but it’s always better to get it checked out. You won’t be wasting anyone’s time, GPs are here to help. If it does turn out to be a sign of something that needs treatment, catching it early could make a big difference. 

“It’s also important to remember that as soon as you stop smoking, your risk of lung cancer starts to go down. If you are a smoker, kicking the habit is the single best thing you can do for your health. 

“Visit www.nhs.uk/smokefree to receive your Free Quit Kit. From there you can choose to receive face-to-face or electronic support.  Alternatively contact the Stop Smoking Service on 0800 093 9030 for help and advice.” 

Being clear on the symptoms of cancer, COPD and heart disease is the latest stage in the NHS’ national “Be Clear on Cancer” campaign which lets people know and identify the early signs of the most common cancers. More information about the campaign can be found here: http://www.nhs.uk/be-clear-on-cancer