If you’ve let your health fall to the bottom of your to-do list, you aren’t alone. Between work, kids, and life in general, it’s easy to stop paying attention to your health the way you should.
The good news is that it’s never too late to start focusing on your health! Whether you’re in your 20’s, your 50’s, and beyond, here are seven things you can do to take control of your health right now.
Challenge Your Diagnosis if It Doesn’t Seem Right
Misdiagnosis is a real problem, and it can be an even bigger problem in some areas. For example, hospitals in Manhattan struggle with underfunding and a lack of adequate specialty equipment. This very easily, and often, results in misdiagnoses.
The doctor doesn’t have to be incompetent or rushed in order to make a diagnosis either. Most doctors are doing the best they can with their experience, their knowledge, and their resources. Because many conditions share many of the same symptoms, it isn’t hard for a doctor to come to the wrong conclusion about what’s wrong with you.
Don’t be afraid to stand up to your doctor if their diagnosis doesn’t feel right. Tell them what you’re thinking, how you’re feeling, and if there are any other conditions you can consider. If they don’t support you, get another opinion from another doctor.
Skip Google and Make an Appointment
Do you go straight to Google or WebMD the instant you experience a new symptom? You aren’t alone! Although it may feel good to try and do something about what you’re experiencing the instant you notice a new symptom, it’s really not a good idea to Google your health symptoms.
Information online can help you if you already know what you have, but if you’re experiencing troubling symptoms, it’s always a better idea to schedule an appointment with your doctor. Not only will you save a lot of time, as a simple online search can turn into hours spent on the internet, you’re also a lot less likely to panic. Many symptoms can be signs of serious medical issues, like cancer, but most of the time, it turns out to be something a lot less serious that your doctor can treat easily.
Know When to Get Screened
Many people avoid going to the doctor, especially since they lived their entire young adult lives barely going into the clinic at all. However, as you get older, health problems can pop up much more quickly. That’s why knowing when you should get screened is important.
Just a few screenings you should be aware of and make appointments for include:
- Regular cholesterol tests starting at age 40
- Colorectal cancer screenings beginning at age 50
- Breast cancer screenings for women starting at age 50
- Prostate cancer screenings for some men starting at age 55
Banish Bad Habits
We all have a few bad habits, but some can affect our lives more than others. Bad health habits can decrease our quality of life and even decrease our lifespan, so it’s important to modify them one by one.
A few bad health habits you should break sooner rather than later include:
- Drinking alcohol
- Eating fast food
- Being a couch potato
- Snacking when you’re full
- Not getting enough sleep
Breaking habits can be hard, so don’t feel like you have to break them all at once. Start with something manageable first, like getting an extra 15 minutes of sleep every night or skipping one trip through the drive-thru every week. As you break bad habits, you will gain confidence and feel ready to tackle more difficult habits, like smoking and drinking.
Know Your Own Vital Signs
Do you know your vital signs? Or do you rely on the doctor to take your vitals and tell you if something seems off?
It’s important to know what’s normal for people your age and gender, as well as what’s normal for you before the doctor even tells you your numbers. You should know things like what your normal temperature is, what your resting heart rate is, and what your blood pressure usually is.
It’s even better if you can take some of your vitals at home. For example, knowing that going to the doctor makes you nervous, increases your heart rate, and it increases your blood pressure can keep you from being prescribed medicine you don’t need.
Keep Track of Your Records
In a perfect world, we would go see the same doctor in the same clinic. Instead, our medical system is hyper-specialized, which means you will see multiple doctors for many different reasons in different buildings, and in some cases, different cities. Make it easier for you and your doctors by keeping track of your records.
Keep track of things like the medications you take, current and past health conditions, dates of checkups and screening tests, and your other healthcare providers. When you keep track of this information yourself, you don’t have to worry about anything falling through the cracks the next time you see a new doctor.
Maintain Strong Relationships
When you think of doing things for your health, you probably think of eating more vegetables and exercising more, but socializing is surprisingly important too. Studies are showing that older people who have adequate social relationships are more likely to survive serious medical conditions, and they are more likely to live longer. Not to mention, strong relationships with friends and family can stave off loneliness and depression.
Whether it’s family or friends, it’s never too late to develop closer relationships with other people! Get friendly with your neighbors, call a cousin you haven’t talked to in years, or reach out to an old friend on Facebook and your health will be better off for it.
It’s never too late to start doing a better job of taking care of your health! Even if you only do one of the tips on this list, you’ll be happier, healthier, and you just may live longer!