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Look after yourself! Know the signs!

We are all so quick to help out others when they are not themselves, feeling unwell, or feeling down. But, many of us put our own health and well being on the ‘low priority list’. It is so important to be in tune with your own health and be aware of your body giving you warning signs when something is not right.

I understand that it can all be very confusing when so many signs and symptoms overlap. Symptoms that are typical of a mild flu can also be common in more serious presentations, but of course we just assume the later. It should not be the job of your spouse or loved ones to pick up on things that you have known about for a long time. It is also NOT okay to ignore the alarm bells in the hope that they will disappear.

Whether you are twenty-one or eighty-one everyone should know the ‘warning signs’ of serious illness/diseases and other body malfunctions. You should ALWAYS consult your GP or specialist if you ever have any concerns, and you should NEVER rely on Dr Google for a diagnosis or treatment protocol.

You may have conflicting thoughts in your head regarding whether to address the concerns that you have. One day it may be ‘I will absolutely go to the doctor tomorrow, this is not right’, and the next day it might be ‘stop overthinking it, it will go away by itself. I don’t want to make a fuss, or inconvenience my family/doctor/boss etc’. In this situation, the best option is to check-in with your regular GP. Everyone can afford to spare an hour of their day every so often to get a routine health check. Unless you are proactive, you will never know, and it may just be too late. Signs of very serious medical emergencies can be very subtle in some people, and very obvious in others.

Know the signs for common (and serious) emergencies:

Stroke: Change in behaviour, difficulty with speech or thinking of what to say, confusion, irritability, headache, weakness (usually one-sided), high blood pressure, difficulty with concentration, facial drooping, vomiting, visual disturbances, sleeping more than normal, drowsiness

Heart attack: Chest pain (pinching crushing, burning, heaviness, pressure), with or without: jaw pain, neck pain and arm pain, tightness of the chest, nausea, indigestion, heart burn, stomach pain, dizziness, lightheadedness, lethargy, cold sweats

Cancer: Lethargy, rapid/unintentional weight loss, fever, pain, skin changes (reddened, yellowish, darker), sores/skin spots that take longer to heal than normal, lumps/bumps that are out of the ordinary, change in bowel habits. Note: signs and symptoms vary heavily depending on the type and severity.

Head injury/concussion: Confusion, memory loss, headache, dizziness, unconsciousness, vomiting, you have had a recent blow/knock to the head, sleeping more than normal, sensitivity to light/sound, convulsions/seizures, agitation

Heart disease: Shortness of breath, cough that produces pink or red mucous, fatigue easily, lightheadedness, feet swelling, dizziness, tired all the time, migraines

Prevention is better than cure, and it all starts with YOU. Look after yourself, you only have one chance at this adventure we call life. Your body is your temple, treat it with respect, care, and take the necessary steps to be sure that it is all functioning as it should. You are always better to be safe than sorry. How long since you’ve had your routine health check? Prioritise yourself above anything else, starting today.

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