Sometimes, we have to face the things we fear the most. Instead of avoiding them, we must confront them head on because the longer we wait, the worse things could get. Many people would rather not hear bad news so they don’t have to acknowledge it or deal with it.
We’ve all heard the phrase “what you don’t know won’t hurt you.” Some of us may have even said it a time or two, but in certain aspects of our lives, it’s critical we avoid this philosophy.
A perfect example is the fear some people have of going to the doctor. When is the last time you had a physical? If it’s been more than a year, it’s time to schedule an appointment.
“I Feel Fine!”
There are many reasons why people won’t go to the doctor, but the most common reason is they simply don’t feel sick. The rationale here is why go to a doctor if you aren’t ill? Expensive deductibles and lack of time also motivate people who feel ok to shun doctor’s visits. Unfortunately, just because a person feels ok does not mean there’s nothing wrong. The longer these issues go undetected, the more hazardous they can be for a person’s health.
Silent, But Deadly
There are many health issues that initially have very subtle symptoms or none at all. If a person doesn’t go to the doctor for regular checkups and get them detected and treated, there could be serious (and potentially deadly) consequences later. The following illnesses have few outward symptoms in the early stages:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Coronary heart disease
- Some cancers
A person can feel perfectly fine and have any of the above for years, totally oblivious to the potential dangers. If symptoms start to appear or they become impossible to ignore, it may be too late.
Early Detection Rates
The key is to get annual checkups. Many illnesses and diseases are treatable if detected early:
Colon cancer. If caught early, the 5 year survival rate is 91%, versus only 11% if it has spread to other organs.1
Breast & prostate cancer: the five year survival rate for both if detected early is 100%.1
High blood pressure. High blood pressure is also known as the silent killer. If left unchecked, it increases the risk of chronic kidney disease, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, visons problems, and more. A change in diet, medication and exercise are ways to get blood pressure under control.
High cholesterol. Early detection and treatment of high cholesterol can help decrease the amount of plaque buildup in the arteries, reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
What you don’t know CAN hurt you. In addition to having a routine physical at least once a year, the following checkups are also advised:
- Cholesterol every 4-6 years
- Blood pressure checked annually
- Prostate checked every 4 years after age 50.
- Mammograms annually after age 40
Many people don’t like going to the doctor, but it’s critical they not only go to the doctor, but make necessary lifestyle changes as needed:
- Decrease intake of processed foods
- Stop smoking
- Limit consumption of sodas and foods high in salt and sugar
- Drink 8 glasses of water daily
- Aim for 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies per day
- Get 30 minutes of exercise daily.
- Consider taking a supplement or multivitamin
Feeling fine is not the same as getting a clean bill of health from a doctor. Be proactive by going to the doctor and taking better care of yourself. Make these changes today and your body will thank you tomorrow.
Jeff White is a certified personal trainer, author and wellness coach. He believes a strong mind and body go hand in hand, and both are needed for optimum performance. Jeff is the author of the award winning and Amazon Best Seller The 3 Pillars of Strength: Increasing Your Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Fitness.