A quarter of Brits are treating potentially serious symptoms like bloating or weight loss by making changes to their diet, such as cutting out gluten or dairy, rather than having them checked out by a doctor, according to new research.
The Bupa investigation found that 24% of Brits had made significant dietary changes without consulting a medical professional, with 11% diagnosing themselves as gluten or dairy intolerant. The research found that 25- to 34-year-olds were the most likely to cut gluten of dairy from their diet.
The research also found that 56% of people couldn’t identify the symptoms of bowel cancer, which is the most serious condition likely to be misdiagnosed as a food intolerance by the untrained eye.
“People have become more aware of how food can affect how they feel, which is great, but it has led to a rise in DIY doctors,” says Amanda Squire, an oncology nurse advisor at Bupa. “People often misdiagnose themselves and treat digestive disorders with dietary changes rather than seeking an expert medical opinion.”
The symptoms of bowel cancer are, as you might imagine, not especially pleasant, but it is vital to get checked out by an expert if you are experiencing several of the below issues, as outlined by Squire:
- Abdominal bloating, cramps or discomfort
- Change in bowel movements
- Blood in stools
- Sudden/extreme weight loss
- Stomach pains/lump in stomach
- Extreme tiredness
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Early diagnosis of bowel cancer makes a huge difference – more than nine in ten bowel cancer cancer patients survive for more than five years if it is spotted at the earliest stage, according to stats from Cancer Research UK.
Even if your issue does turn out to be a food intolerance, it’s worth getting that confirmed by a medical professional. Cutting out foods or food groups is no easy task and requires careful planning to ensure you are getting enough of the nutrients usually provided by those foods in your diet.