Being selfish about your health is not only essential to you, but critical to your ability to take care of everyone around you. Our lives are full and we are constantly adding to an already busy schedule, so how do we maintain our own health and wellness when we are constantly caught up in everything around us? A yearly physical is a must, but a physical is only as thorough as you are in preparation for it. This includes both your physical and emotional well-being.
Dr. Leslie Dominguez, doctor of Internal Medicine with St. Tammany Parish Hospital in Covington, Louisiana, notes that coming into your doctor’s office with a list of two to three concerns makes the process more efficient. “More than 2-3 issues cannot be reasonably addressed during a single visit, so make sure you have a list of the medications you currently take, plus the medical problems, along with your surgical history as well as family history,” Dr. Dominguez said. “If this information is given to the RN ahead of the appointment, the doctor can review this prior to your exam. Also, if there is a strong history of chronic disease or cancer in the family, the sooner you establish this with your PCP, the better. This way, the physician and the staff can make sure you are doing everything you can to prevent the progression or development of the disease.”
This cursory home-health checklist (before you hit the doctor’s office) can speed up the process and help eliminate unnecessary tests or follow-ups that your doctor might otherwise prescribe, saving you both time and money.
Aches and Pains
Notice if you have any new or unusual aches and pains, such as joint, muscle, back, or abdominal. Aches and pains sneak up on us, and typically don’t register until symptoms have progressed. For example, slowly increasing neck pain could be debilitating one day, but an MRI of that part of the spine might reveal a herniated disc, or point your doctor to a different potential cause.
Rash or reactions
Have you experienced new reactions to food or household objects in the last year? These might include reactions to certain foods, or household items like soap, detergent, and even pets. We can suddenly develop allergies to pets we have had for years, but this too can be managed.
Irregular periods and/or breast pain
If you still have your period you may notice that things start to change as you age. Your periods might become irregular or spotty, and you might experience soreness in your breasts, independent of your menstruation. This should be noted in a yearly physical, including your yearly OB/GYN exam.
Fatigue or lack of energy
Because we are so busy, we often assume that being tired is normal, but this is not necessarily so. Fatigue arises from various causes. If you find yourself unusually exhausted or unable to do the things you might typically do, this could be a vitamin deficiency, something that can be corrected with vitamin injections or supplements, or some other cause entirely, such as stress, anxiety, or even boredom.
Confusion or memory lapse
There are so many things in a day that can derail us, but a constant stream of confusion or a lapse in memory could have roots in something deeper than what’s in front of us. These symptoms may be subtle. If you notice them, be sure to add these to your list with an example or two that might illustrate the problem.
Sleep can be the root cause of so many things, including weight gain, mood disorders, and even problems with memory. If you are having a hard time sleeping, this is something that you and your doctor should discuss. There are myriad options for tackling sleep deprivation, from holistic and natural alternatives like yoga and meditation, to medications with little or no side effects.
A healthy diet, exercise, and good sleep hygiene will go a long way with your health. Tracking your patterns, positive or negative, will make it much easier for you to speak with your doctor and help you develop a plan together moving forward.