Defining Health

Lack of SleepWe all experience occasional symptoms such as fatigue, stress, indigestion, achy joints, and headaches from time to time.  We line up the excuses blaming the fatigue on lack of sleep, the stress on our jobs, the indigestion on lunch, the achy joints on getting old, and the headaches on our children.  We tend to view these symptoms as harmless and self-medicate to ease our suffering.  

We drink caffeine for the fatigue, and wine for the stress.  We take antacids for the indigestion and pain killers for the achy joints and headaches. Eventually however, many of us will notice that these symptoms begin to occur more frequently and often become worse.  After a trip to the doctor for the routine check-up, we breathe a sigh of relief when we hear the labs were normal, nothing is wrong, and we are as healthy as can be.

The question is, are we really healthy?  

I suppose that would depend on your definition of health.  The World Health Organization defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.  This definition has not been amended since 1948… so when did we become satisfied to learn we simply do not have a diagnosable disease?  What about the complete physical, mental and social well-being part? What about energy, strength, and vitality?  It has become routine to use our own concoctions of remedies to trick ourselves into thinking we feel better, but the effects are temporary.  Day in and day out we continue the unhealthy habits that led to our symptoms in the first place and we mask these symptoms with medications.  We go through life with our masks on, blinding ourselves with illusion that these symptoms are a normal part of life until one day it catches up to us and the labs finally unveil a diagnosis.  
In most cases, especially in the case of chronic disease, the diagnosed condition did not develop overnight.  And the preceding symptoms were the body's way of telling us that something was wrong, that something had to change, NOT that something needed to be covered up. 

If you want to be healthy, listen to what your body is trying to tell you.  

Always remember that symptoms are a sign of dysfunction, and dysfunction precedes disease.  It is far easier to treat dysfunction than it is to treat disease, so don't wait for your diagnosis to be unveiled.  Take your mask off and take action to identify and treat the underlying cause of your symptoms so you can finally experience the true definition of health.

Dr. Sarah Hegger

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