Taking charge of your wellness starts with diet and exercise, but it doesn’t have to stop there. One of the best ways to keep yourself in optimal health is to listen to and understand your body. By seeing a doctor and speaking up when specific symptoms arise and by scheduling routine doctor visits, you can begin to take charge of your health.
From getting enough sleep to listening to your gut, here is why understanding your body is vital for your health:
Know Your Risk Factors
Preventing illness or injury is always easier than treating it, so understanding your risk factors is a must. Knowing your family history, understanding how your gender can play a role in your risks, and getting proper testing can help. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), some of the leading causes of death are preventable. Build a relationship with your doctor, be honest about your family history and your health, and follow up on recommended screenings.
Get Proper Rest
We know that it’s easy to always be on the go. In today’s world, it’s common to skip hours ofsleep for work, family time and events, but doing this is not good for your brain or body. Lack of sleep can affect your everyday life. Without the minimum recommended seven or more hours of sleep a night, you are jeopardizing your heart health, your immune system is weakened, and your mind doesn’t function at full capacity.
According to Sleep.org, your risk for high blood pressure goes up if you get less than six hours of sleep a night. Also, with long-term sleep deprivation, your chances of developing cardiovascular disease rise.
Pay Attention to Your Digestive Health
“You are what you eat!” isn’t so far from the truth. Your digestive health can be a clue to what’s going on in your body. By routinely visiting your doctor, you can receive regular colon cancer testing and better manage your gut bacteria to maintain positive digestive health.
The most effective way to reduce your risk of colon cancer is to get a routine screening, starting at aged 50, per the CDC. If you have a family history of colon cancer or have had digestive issues in the past, you’ll want to consider a colonoscopy earlier. The symptoms of colon cancer, which are not always visible, may include:
- Blood in your stool
- Consistent stomach pain, aches or cramps
- Sudden weight loss without a change in diet
Additionally, there are lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of colon cancer such as a diet low in animal fats and high in grains and vegetables.
See Your Doctor Annually
Seeing your doctor only when you’re sick is common for most people, but it can leave you with a poor doctor-patient relationship. Going to annual visits helps to:
- Strengthen your doctor-patient relationship, which supports open communication
- Prevent and detect illness early, when it’s most treatable
- Alert you to the need for further preventive testing that could require a specialist
Men’s and women’s annual visits do differ. For more on the importance of well-women visits: read here. To learn more about the top men’s health screenings, visit here.
Be Aware of Common Signs of a Stroke or Heart Attack
Though testing and regular visits can help prevent disease, many major health problems or pains can occur quickly, and the faster you take action, the less likely it is that long-term damage will occur.
For instance, stroke symptoms can come on fast, and immediate treatment is critical. The CDC states that strokes are the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States. Common symptoms of stroke can be face drooping, arm weakness and speech issues. Timing is everything, and if these symptoms do occur, it’s time to immediately call 911.
Heart attack symptoms also are frequently ignored. Symptoms for men can differ from those of women. Chest pain, nausea and shooting pains down the left arm can all be signs of a heart attack for both genders. For women, jaw pain can be present. Overall, if something does not feel right, it’s important to seek medical attention.
Don’t Ignore Your Mental Health
The CDC states that more than 50 percent of people in the United States will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder at some point in their life. This statistic does not include those who live with an undiagnosed mental illness.
Your mental health can affect your physical health, too. Studies show that those who suffer from depression may be at a higher risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Additionally, chronic health conditions also can increase your risk for mental illness. With proper sleep, a healthy diet and routine exercise, you can work to improve both your mental and physical health.
For some, social interactions or support groups can help with mental and physical health, as well. Overall, being mindful of the state of your mental health may help lower your risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke and help you deal with chronic conditions and pain.
Talk With Your Doctor
Lastly, if you feel that something isn’t right or you’re mentally not feeling up to your usual self, reach out to your doctor. The more you open the lines of communication, the easier it will be to keep your health on track. If you are in need of a physician, a member of our Southwest General Medical Group can help you stay on top of routine testing and work towards optimal health.