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Most common physical conditions affecting Brits

Health and Mental Health

Most common physical conditions affecting Brits

Most common physical conditions affecting Brits

Millions of adults are living with Great Pain Shame – a physical condition they are choosing to hide from others. A study of 2,000 people found 52 per cent have an ailment which affects their day-to-day existence, but of these, one in 10 haven’t told a single soul. And 65 per cent have only mentioned to a select few.

Incontinence, irritable bowel syndrome, peri-menopause and severe period pain are some of the top things adults are choosing to keep to themselves. While others mask things like back pain, fibromyalgia and skin wounds or conditions.

Staying indoors as much as possible (14 per cent), turning down social invitations (13 per cent) and avoiding going outdoors in the heat (11 per cent) are among the top ways sufferers choose to hide their pain. Nearly six in 10 (56 per cent) would rather not talk to anyone about what they are going through – with 45 per cent preferring to try and forget as much as possible.

And 41 per cent don’t want to be rendered incapable of doing everyday things.

A spokesman for hygiene and health company Essity, which commissioned the study alongside a taboo-busting video series:

“More than half the nation is currently suffering with a diagnosed condition, which affects them on a daily basis. That figure is really incredible, and just highlights how important it is to get everyone talking about what they are going through. Suffering in silence is not a great remedy for pain – it doesn’t make it easier to manage and doesn’t make it go away.

“While there are practical solutions which make living with a painful condition easier, the first step is having the confidence to talk about it. We hope our new video series – Studio Taboo – will help encourage more Brits to speak up about their health and wellbeing and see that there are millions of others just like them.”

The study, carried out via OnePoll, found those with physical conditions endure an average of three nights of broken sleep every week, and 44 per cent experience some sort of discomfort daily. Exercise is difficult for 35 per cent, long journeys are painful for 30 per cent, and 24 per cent struggle to even sit on the floor. And they feel weary (45 per cent), frustrated (42 per cent), irritable (30 per cent) and unhappy (28 per cent) every single day.

Top Ten physical conditions affecting many Brits


  • Back pain
  • Arthritis (rheumatoid, osteo or psoriatic)
  • Asthma
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome/ Crohn’s/ Ulcerative Colitis
  • Diabetes
  • Skin wounds / conditions – including things like eczema or psoriasis
  • Hearing impairment
  • Orthopedic injuries
  • Peri-menopause
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome


For 62 per cent, coping with constant pain has directly affected their mental health and wellbeing – but 86 per cent often find themselves saying they are fine, even when they are not. Despite this, 38 per cent of those who refuse to talk to others about what they are going through are adamant they do not want to be treated differently. More than a third (34 per cent) don’t want others to think of them as old, and 32 per worry about being judged.

Sadly, of those with a condition, 32 per cent are not in employment – with 23 per cent citing their condition as the key reason. For those in the workplace, just 30 per cent said every member of their team is aware of their physical ailment. Of the workers who have refrained from divulging all to the boss, half feel it isn’t their business, while 41 per cent don’t feel comfortable sharing. However, seven per cent worry they’d be left out of important meetings and six per cent don’t think they’d be consulted for key decisions.

But 79 per cent of those with a condition choose to look on the bright side of life – often acknowledging “things could be worse”.

Essity’s spokesman:

“Things could be worse, but they could also better – if only people were prepared to drop the stiff upper lip and turn to others for help. Getting the right people around you to listen, the correct diagnosis for what is wrong, and the right products or medication to treat the problem can go a long way to make things more bearable.”

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