Almost one in seven people visited their GP over the past year for norovirus, according to a survey by trade association PAGB.
That’s despite the NHS urging patients to stay at home and call 111.
More than a third of people were concerned about picking up infections from other people at doctors surgeries, the survey also revealed.
The winter vomiting bug is spread by coming into close contact with an infected patient, by touching contaminated surfaces or objects, or by eating contaminated foods, the NHS said.
Unnecessary visits to the doctors meant 10 per cent of patients exaggerated their symptoms to get a same-day check-up, PAGB claimed.
“A wide range of over-the-counter medicines, available from pharmacies, supermarkets and other retail outlets, can provide short-term relief from the symptoms of many self-treatable conditions, such as colds and stomach upsets,” said PAGB chief executive John Smith.
“People who don’t feel confident in choosing an appropriate medicine for themselves can speak to a pharmacist who can provide expert self care advice.
“Pharmacists can identify when symptoms need to be assessed by a doctor and will signpost you to other NHS services.”
There’s no specific treatment for norovirus, so you don’t usually need to see your GP, the NHS said.
Antibiotics won’t help because the bug is a virus. If you’re concerned about the condition, or need advice, phone 111, the NHS urged.
You should, however, get medical advice if your child has passed six or more watery stools in the past 24 hours, or if they’re less responsive and have mottled skin.
Seek medical advice if symptoms haven’t improved after a few days, or if you have bloody diarrhoea, the NHS added.
Norovirus symptoms include suddenly feeling sick, projectile vomiting and watery diarrhoea.
Other signs of the condition include a slight fever, headaches, painful stomach crams and achy limbs.
The symptoms generally appear one or two days after becoming infected, and last for up to three days.
Washing your hands frequently with soap and water could reduce the risk of getting the vomiting bug.