If you had to make a list of priorities, where would your health fall on that list? For most, it comes fourth or fifth, somewhere after job deadlines and family commitments. This neglect is why so many busy professionals find themselves in poor or failing health. Think of your body as a high performance car and schedule maintenance accordingly. Between the yearly physicals and 30,000 mile check–ups, take note of any unusual symptoms. Below are a just a few of the symptoms you should take seriously and seek medical attention for:
What to look for: Forgetting details of conversations. Reading the same information over and over before it sinks in. Thoughts that tend to bounce around and lack focus, much like adult ADD.
This may be one of the most ignored symptoms among executives. There are a number of reasons people may have trouble concentrating, but any changes in cognitive function should be investigated. The initial workup should include lab work, a cognitive assessment, and an overview of exposure to excessive stress. Stress is real and can greatly affect the brain. A cognitive assessment gives details as to the extent of the deficit. Lab work should also be ordered because some of the most common causes include: hormone imbalances and vitamin deficiencies.
Change in Digestion
What to look for: Diarrhea or constipation or both. Bloody or dark stools. Bloating or unusual feeling of fullness.
A change in bowel habits doesn’t necessarily mean cancer. It could be a disturbance in the gut microbiome, infection, or a sensitivity to gluten or dairy. Many issues that surround the gut are easy to correct through dietary changes or the use of probiotics.
Since colon cancer is preventable, almost always starting as a polyp that can easily be removed, the importance of having a colonoscopy cannot be understated. While, the official government recommendation is to start screening colonoscopies at age 50, that does not account for those having symptoms or those with a family history of colon cancer. The earlier colon cancer is identified, the greater the chance for a full recovery.
Chest Pain or Heartburn
What to look for: Pain in the chest, shoulders, or stomach area.
Chest pain should never be ignored. While chest wall pain is usually due to stress, central chest pain may be a sign of a serious heart issue and should be addressed immediately. Any discomfort that worsens with exercise is especially alarming. Any pain in the chest area that is accompanied by sweating, shortness of breath, or a change in skin tone is a reason to call 911.
Heart attack symptoms vary, especially by gender. It’s not always going to be the classic chest pain radiating to the left shoulder. It could be either shoulder, the back or the neck. Bottom line – don’t try to diagnose yourself.
If you’ve had heartburn that’s recurrent or constant, it could be your heart. Chest pain is often misdiagnosed as indigestion. When patients say they have a pain in their “stomach” – it may not be their stomach at all. And remember, some heart conditions are accompanied by nausea.
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) like omeprazole, which is now over the counter and often recommended for heartburn, were never intended for long-term use. Not only do they have a laundry list of side effects, new research shows that long-term PPI use can lead to kidney damage. Indigestion that is more than temporary or infrequent should thoroughly be evaluated by a healthcare provider.