If you struggle with your health, I hope that these illness warning signs will help you heal.
I’ve shared my struggle with a chronic illness and about the idea of pursuing health not chasing sickness. I’m several years past that struggle and have had time to reflect on what helped me through the dark moments. These are thoughts of hope and personal experience more than words of wisdom. If now or ever in the future you find yourself in a long struggle for your health, I hope that these reflections will help you heal.
Prevention Is the Best Cure
The best way out of a chronic illness is to not enter into one in the first place. (You may be thinking, yeah, okay, smart ass, great advice – but what does that mean?) Well, of course, the basics of eating well, exercising, and getting good sleep are important, but we’ve discussed these topics in many posts. Here, I’m thinking of something slightly different. Too often an illness slips from acute to chronic because we’re not paying enough attention.
Lesson number one from the darkness: When your body is trying to tell you something, listen.
5 Illness Warning Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore
You have a job (or maybe two), kids, responsibilities, and a million other things going on besides. You simply don’t have time to be sick. So what do you do? You power through a cold or the flu without skipping a beat. But what if that cough hangs on for six weeks? Or six months? Have you really made the wisest choice? Ignoring short fevers or occasional aches and pains may seem reasonable enough, but in reality it’s a gambit, one that can pay off or can lead to the development of a chronic illness.
So what are the illness warning signs? Here are a few signals from your body that are important enough that you should pay attention to them:
- Fever – Fever is normally a reaction to an acute sickness, and if it spikes over 104 you should hit the emergency room immediately. It’s also possible to have a persistent low-grade fever (between 100 and 103). If your fever lasts more than 14 days, pay attention
- Everything Aches – Do you constantly feel aches and pain? Do you talk about Ibuprofen as vitamin I or your best friend? Do people comment on how often you complain about your joints? These are all warning signs. Pay attention.
- Digestive Issues – Are you seeing the inside of the bathroom door more than the blue sky? Prolonged bouts of diarrhea, constipation, or vomiting, abdominal pain aren’t normal – pay attention.
- Changes in Sleep Patterns – Sleep is so critical to good health. If you see a change in your sleep patterns that causes you to get less quality sleep or find yourself sleeping all the time, hear the warning bells. And pay attention.
- Sitting All Day – If you’re generally sedentary because of your job or so constantly tired that all you want to do is sit, pay attention.
Don’t Fear Illness Warning Signs – Be Aware
I’m not encouraging you to cower in fear from these illness warning signs and adopt a lifestyle that borders on hypochondria. Instead, I’m arguing for the importance of being self-aware and self-caring.
If you allow your body to fall into a chronic illness, you won’t be able to honor your family or job responsibilities. But if you pursue your optimal health, staying aware without becoming paranoid will become second nature. In other words, practice the kind of awareness that can distinguish signal from noise. Value yourself and your health as primary commitments.