Today I want to talk about something that I think most of us do. Ignoring health problems and symptoms. It’s one thing to be neglectful of one’s health when things are going fine, but to ignore symptoms and “let nature take its course” when health problems emerge is highly risky. Your immune system can battle back against minor infections well enough, but beyond that, nature taking “its course” often means you get worse, not better. Everyday symptoms like headaches, lethargy, dizziness, or chronic coughs can often be indicating the emergence of more serious diseases – including life-threatening heart attacks, strokes, and cancers.
Yet, people ignore symptoms all the time. In a recent survey of 1,100 men, 30 percent said they wait as long as possible before taking troubling symptoms of any kind to the doctor’s office. The problem with waiting? You lose the opportunity to get small health problems treated before they become they become big health problems. Catching many cancers early boosts your chances for survival significantly. Reversing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or high blood sugar as soon as possible lowers your odds for fatal heart attacks, strokes, and a wide range of scary, diabetes-related complications such as kidney failure, blindness, and amputations due to infections in feet and legs. Even ignoring seemingly small problems like bleeding gums could raise your risk for serious gum infections, which contribute to diabetes and heart disease.
If you have your health, then you are lucky – no clear damage has come about as a result of your self-neglect. Still, get yourself to a doctor today! A full checkup and a new approach to health, in which you are highly mindful of your body’s health signals, are in order.
Early diagnosis of chronic problems is worth far more than you can imagine. So is losing the uncertainty related to your undiagnosed symptoms and health problems. These benefits far outweigh the financial and emotional costs of consulting a doctor.
Here are some tips to help you start being more proactive with your health care:
Change your attitude. So many men – and plenty of women too! – have an I-don’t-need-a-doctor attitude, as if suffering in silence is a virtue and going to see a doctor a defeat. It’s time to change that. Just as success in business almost always relies on a team, so does success in health. Your doctor is essential to your achieving long life and long health. Treat him or her as a welcome participant in your successful future.
See your doctor at least as often as your car sees an auto shop. That means at least once per year. Ask for an annual physical with a blood workup. Women should also see their gynecologists.
Don’t forget your eyes and your teeth. Once a year is the minimum for seeing your eye doctor and your dentist, too.
Resolve to take aches and pains seriously. Pain specialists agree that early pain relief is best. Left alone, chronic pain can create hard-to-break feedback loops in your brain.
Set a two-week limit. Do you have an odd-looking mole? An abnormal bulge? Unusual bloating? Take any strange symptom to your doctor’s office if it persists for more than two weeks.
I confess that this year I have been guilty of ignoring my health. I cancelled my yearly doctor visit because I was “too busy” and never made another appointment. I am going to recommit right now to making and keeping my yearly doctor checks today. How about you?
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