British series House of Hypochondriacs is a must-watch medical reality show in which people with a tendency to self-diagnose illnesses are brought face-to-face with actual sufferers of serious disease. It’s understandable that people freak out when Google has an abundance of medical information so readily available, and every twinge, ache, and stitch feels like it could be the herald of some incurable illness. Here are five instances that will almost definitely alleviate none of your somatic symptom disorder.
Is it indigestion or the first inkling of a heart attack?
Acid reflux is the curse of the regular drinker with a hankering for spicy food, and at its worst can feel like you are going to die in an explosion of pain. But while your friends and family assure you heart attacks are all about numbness in the arm and you’re just being dramatic, you should be aware that poor blood flow or a sudden blockage in the coronary arteries do indeed cause chest pain. Feel free to give them an “I told you so” when you wake up after surgery. And swerve the spice for a while.
Can’t sleep? Might be fatal familial insomnia
Lots of people go through a period of tossing and turning, unable to capture the sweet embrace of restful sleep. It’s especially common when you’re stressed, have caffeine late in the day, use your phone or tablet in bed, or are on certain medications. But, you know, there’s also a chance your inability to doze off could be due to fatal familial insomnia which, as its name suggests, comes from your genetic background and kills you. There’ll probably be some other signs before that happens, though, like Mum and Nanna looking as tired as you... oh, and panic attacks, weight loss, phobias and excessive salivation.
That pain in your leg might be ovarian cancer
Have you detected some swelling in your pins when rolling on the stockings? It could be an early-warning sign that something has gone wrong further up your body. Ovarian cancer has a few seemingly unrelated symptoms – aside from the accompanying leg pain, you may have nausea, sudden weight loss or gain, or a swollen abdomen. If so, get yourself to a doctor for a pelvic exam ASAP.
Huntington’s Disease lurks in the genes for decades
If you’re reading this while in your teens, twenties or even your early thirties, congratulations on surviving this long. But be aware that Huntington’s Disease is a late-onset condition that generally doesn’t manifest symptoms until a person reaches their mid-thirties or forties. It starts with fidgeting or slight alterations in your handwriting, then progresses to involuntary jerking and/or muscle rigidity as the disease progresses. There is a predictive test you can take once you turn 18, but obviously that’s a personal decision.
Your headache might be caused by something living in your skull
When you wake up after a big night out, there’s no mystery surrounding the source of your thudding headache. But if you’re experiencing head pain on a regular basis and haven’t had so much as a light-beer shandy since your cousin’s 18th, it’s juuuust possible you’re harbouring a stowaway. After all, that’s what happened to Jay Whalley from Frenzal Rhomb, who picked up a pig tapeworm parasite in Central America and carried it around in his brain for four years.
Watch House of Hypochondriacs on SBS tonight at 7:35pm. It will stream soon after on SBS On Demand.