Break the habit: I tend to ignore health problems

It is one thing to neglect your health when things are going fine, but to ignore symptoms and ‘let nature take its course’ is highly risky. Your immune system can battle minor infections well enough, but beyond that, ‘nature taking its course’ often means you get worse, not better.

What damage am I doing?

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Everyday symptoms such as indigestion, lethargy, dizziness or chronic coughs can often indicate the emergence of more serious diseases, including heart attacks, strokes and cancers.

Yet people ignore symptoms all the time. In a recent survey of 1,100 men, 30 percent said they wait as long as possible before seeing a doctor about troubling symptoms of any kind. The problem then is you lose the chance to get small health problems treated before they become big problems.


Read more: 10 Health problems men should never ignore


Catching many cancers early boosts your chances of survival significantly. Reversing high blood pressure, high cholesterol or high blood sugar as soon as possible lowers your odds of fatal heart attacks, strokes and a wide range of diabetes-related complications such as kidney failure, blindness and amputation due to infections in the feet and legs.

Even ignoring a seemingly small problem such as bleeding gums could raise your risk of serious gum infections, which contribute to diabetes and heart disease.


Can I undo the damage?

Possibly. If you have your health, you are lucky, no clear damage has come about as a result of your self-neglect. But treat all symptoms as a wake-up call and have them checked by your doctor.

Then adopt a new approach to health, in which you are highly mindful of your body's signals. Early diagnosis of a chronic problem is worth far more than you imagine. So is losing the uncertainty related to your undiagnosed symptoms and health problems

These benefits far outweigh any inconvenience or embarrassment from consulting a doctor. 


Your repair plan

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  • Change your attitude. So many men—and plenty of women—have an I-don't-need-a-doctor attitude, as if suffering in silence is a virtue and going to see a doctor a defeat. It's time to change that. Just as success in business almost always relies on a team, so does success in health. Your doctor is essential to your achievement of long life and long health. Treat him or her as a welcome participant in your successful future.
  • See your doctor more often. As well as talking about any symptoms, ask for a check of your blood pressure and cholesterol and discuss any risk factors such as being overweight or a family history of serious illnesses.
  • Don't forget your eyes and your teeth. Once every two years is the minimum for seeing your optometrist. And make sure you have dental checkups as often as your dentist advises.
  • Resolve to take aches and pains seriously. Pain specialists agree that early pain relief is best. Left alone, chronic pain can create hard-to-break feedback loops in your brain.
  • Set a two-week limit. Do you have an odd-looking mole? An abnormal bulge? Unusual bloating? Take any strange symptom to your doctor if it persists for more than two weeks.


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