Symptoms: Are You Common or Normal?
First some definitions:
Common: Occurring or happening regularly or frequently.
Normal: Healthy, not sick or ill.
Here’s why I’m making this distinction. I often have patients comment that “oh, I have to take Advil the first two days of my period every month, but that’s normal”. Or “I have a bowel movement every day or two, but that’s normal”. I would like to point out that, neither of the above is normal, common yes, but not normal. We commonly make assumptions about something that we’ve been living with for a long time or have always had, or our mothers always had, or our best friend has too, is “normal”. Sometimes we need to examine these assumptions in order to move forward and achieve better health. Here’s a brief list of some things that I find are common symptoms but not at all normal:
Constipation i.e. bowel movements less than 1-3 times per day
Headaches with change in weather, stress, PMS
Hot flashes, night sweats, depression at menopause
Heartburn or the need to take antacids
Exhaustion when you get home from work
Cravings for salt and/or sugar
Up 1-3 times per night to the washroom
Back pain on waking
Bowel movements 1-3 times per day, every day, typically after eating
No headaches or excess muscle tension
Other than the date, no sign that your period is due
At menopause your periods just stop
No heartburn or antacids
Energy to be active in the evening until at least 8 p.m.
No food cravings
No night waking or need to urinate at night
Free and easy movement any time of day
I could go on, but you get the picture. As a society we make assumptions about what is normal based on what everyone has or does, but true health requires ongoing assessment of where we are at and where we would like to be and then making use of all the tools at our disposal to get there.