The human body is a very sophisticated organism, designed to send us warning signals when something isn’t working properly. It’s important that we listen to the messages our body is sending us and react accordingly. But so often we ignore the little signs that tell us that something is wrong. Either we get used to the symptoms, or we don’t think they warrant a trip to the doctor. Maybe you don’t have the time to address what’s wrong, or are too scared to find out what the problem really is.
Symptoms can be different for each person, so pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you. Often the signs are warning us about small things that we can manage like hunger or stress. But sometimes the message is much more important. When it comes to diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s or HIV, early detection is key, and can possibly make the difference between life and death. These three serious diseases can be treated or managed if you catch them early enough. By ignoring the symptoms, you could make the situation worse.
Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Not all forms of dementia are reversible, but in some cases dementia may be caused by a condition that is treatable. Cognitive issues resulting from brain tumors, alcohol abuse, or medication misuse can be treated if caught early enough. Unfortunately there’s still no cure for Alzheimer’s, but there are treatments that can stop or slow down the progression of the disease. Early detection can greatly improve quality of life for the patient, and treatments are generally most effective when started early in the progression of the disease.
Cancer is one of the biggest killers in our society. Early diagnosis – before the disease has had an opportunity to spread or grow – is the best possible chance of survival. Some forms of cancer, such as ovarian, bowel and breast cancer, have a high survival rate if caught early enough. With other types of very aggressive cancer like lung cancer and mesothelioma, early detection is the only hope of extending the life of the patient. It is important that patients recognize the symptoms of mesothelioma and take action. Better screening methods and treatments are improving the survival rate of cancer patients, but you must see your doctor early to benefit from these technologies.
Many patients suffering from HIV make frequent trips to their doctors. Symptoms are not diagnosed correctly because they are not tested specifically for HIV. Anti-retroviral Therapy (ART) does not cure HIV, but it does help patients live longer, healthier lives. The effectiveness of ART greatly increases when treatment begins before symptoms become severe. Early diagnosis also helps the public, by slowing the spread of the disease. Patients who are aware of their status are less likely to engage in high risk behaviours. 50-70% of all new HIV infections are a result of those who are not aware of their status.
By paying attention to the warning signs, you can greatly improve the chances of survival with many serious illnesses. Self-exams, regular medical exams and screening tests can also provide early diagnoses and help save or improve lives.