Don’t Ignore the Warning Signs

I drive a pretty old truck. I don’t drive it very far, but this truck is showing it’s age. I have a lot of warning lights that come on the dash regularly. It’s easy to ignore the warning lights, because they don’t interfere with my commute. Should I take my truck into the mechanic to investigate these warning lights?

This got me thinking that a vehicle is a lot like a body. We probably all have warning lights that we notice when it comes to our own health. These warning lights may come in the form of a chronically high blood pressure, high blood sugar, or a strange lump or mole that we should get checked out. Perhaps it’s an unusual headache that seems to show up unprovoked every couple of weeks. Our body is showing us warning lights.

When our vehicle warning lights blink on we can take a trip to the mechanic, take a look under the hood in our driveway, or ignore it for a while and see if it goes away. We can apply the same logic to our health. Does the unusual headache seem to follow an interrupted night of sleep? Maybe you could ignore that warning light and see if it goes away. Could it be caused by dehydration, excessive screen time, or tension in your neck and shoulders? This would be a good time to look under the hood and apply some of your own solutions. What if the headache is accompanied by slurred speech and weakness on one side of the body? Get to the mechanic right away! The mechanic, (or the doctor) will diagnose the problem with the warning light, and offer a treatment.

Be sure to give the warning lights on your body’s dashboard the appropriate attention. Like my truck, you get around just fine, and the warning is easy to ignore now, but it may be causing unseen damage which could be much harder to fix later on.

We can rely on mechanics to get us out of serious warning light problems, but patients and vehicle owners alike are responsible for their own routine maintenance. Poor eating habits, insufficient exercise, excessive alcohol use and failing to get enough rest are more serious than skipping an oil change.

There is one place where vehicle/body health analogy breaks down. If my truck becomes worn out beyond repair from ignoring too many warning lights, I might have the option of buying a new one. But when it comes to our health, that is one option that we do not have.

Mark Mercure is certified by the Board of Pharmacy Specialties in Geriatric Pharmacy and is the owner/manager of Home Health Care Pharmacy. He specializes in providing comprehensive medication reviews which help patients optimize medication use and avoid drug-related issues.