Aches. Pains. Injuries. That cough that won’t stop. There are plenty of reasons why you might end up in your primary care provider’s office. Whatever the reason — especially as you age — your provider needs to be up-to-date with your health.
The problem is, a lot of people have a hard time sharing details with their provider. This may be because they’re uncomfortable talking about certain issues or simply because they don’t think it’s relevant.
- Over 30 million Americans have diabetes.
- More than 18 million Americans have sleep apnea.
- About ½ of people over age 60 have diverticulosis — small pouches that bulge through the colon.
- More than 30 million Americans are living with kidney disease.
- Depression is more common in people who have other illnesses — which includes 80% of Americans age 50 or older.
Conditions With Symptoms You May Not Be Talking About
Here are 3 issues to tell your physician about.
1. You’re Tired — All of the Time
You’re juggling a lot — career, kids, parents, and maybe even trying to fit in some fun. While fatigue tends to increase with age, it’s still important to let your provider know if you’re feeling really worn down.
But fatigue is more than just being tired — it’s when you get physically or mentally exhausted doing something that isn’t normally tiring. If you feel overly sluggish just walking the dog or shopping, you might be experiencing physical fatigue. On the other hand, if you have a hard time concentrating or remembering things, that might be mental fatigue.
Tell your physician about both types of fatigue. Fatigue can be a symptom of many conditions — diabetes, thyroid disease, even heart failure. It can also be caused by sleep apnea — a condition that causes your breathing to pause throughout the night, interrupting your sleep.
2. You’re Having Problems in the Bathroom
Most of us avoid talking about what goes on behind bathroom doors — either because we’re embarrassed or we don’t think our physician can help. But bowel and bladder issues can signify much larger health problems that can become more prevalent as you age — and your physician should know about them.
Bowel and bladder problems can come in many different forms. You may feel like you need to urinate more often, or your urine could appear foamy. A major sign to be on the lookout for, though, is blood in your urine or stool. Blood can be a warning sign for a number of potentially serious health concerns, such as kidney disease, bladder cancer, kidney stones, infection, or injury.
And don’t forget about blood in your stool — this can be a sign of colorectal cancer, hemorrhoids (inflamed veins around the rectum), and diverticulosis (small pouches that bulge through the colon).
3. You’ve Been Feeling Down
Everyone feels crummy every once in a while. But if you feel down more often than not — and it’s interfering with your day — you may be experiencing depression.
Depression is more than just feeling down — it’s feelings of sadness or anxiety that can last for weeks. It can leave you feeling hopeless, worthless, and irritable. You may also not feel like doing things you once enjoyed, such as practicing a hobby or spending time with family.
Also, depression can affect your energy and concentration, making daily tasks — like grocery shopping — harder to complete. You might experience changes in appetite or sleep. One day you might want to eat an entire pizza, while the next day, you don’t want to eat anything at all. You might have trouble sleeping through the night, or you might feel like you could sleep for 18 hours a day.
It’s important to remember that depression is a medical condition, just like diabetes or asthma. It takes effort to manage it, but it can be treated. Remain open to your provider’s suggestions for treatment, as depression doesn’t always just go away on its own.
Keep Your Physician in the Loop
It can be confusing to know what to tell your provider and what to keep to yourself. Rule of thumb: When in doubt, tell ‘em. They are trained to determine what’s relevant to your health and what’s not.
Keep them in the loop when you feel like something might be off. You know your body and you know when something doesn’t feel right. Trust your instincts and remember that when it comes to your health, it’s better to err on the side of caution.