Symptoms as Warning Signals

We have many warning signals in our lives: fire alarms to warn us of smoke or fire, indicator lights in our cars that tell us something isn’t working right, alarm clocks that warn us if we’re sleeping too late for a scheduled event, kitchen timers that alert us to the time something has been on the stove or in the oven and may burn if we don’t take action, even a traffic signal has a yellow light warning us that the red light is about to flash. Our bodies also have warning signals; we call them symptoms.

By the time the body sends up the red flag, indicating something is wrong, substantial loss of function has already occurred. I’ve had patients tell me “my husband was perfectly healthy, then one day he dropped dead from a heart attack!” Well, no, he wasn’t perfectly healthy. His body waited too long to send up the red flag saying “HELP!!” His first symptom was that he dropped dead. For others, their first symptom is chest pain, or numbness in the arm, breathlessness or pain in the back between the scapulae. And maybe, his body was sending up red flags and maybe he just ignored them, didn’t tell his wife so she wouldn’t worry, or had it evaluated medically and they found “nothing wrong” because it didn’t show in the tests they did.

This is a common problem. You may have symptoms something is wrong, you have some basic tests to see why, but they all come back “negative”. You know you don’t feel well, you know that you are having symptoms that are not normal, your gut instinct says something is wrong, but you are dismissed because the tests don’t show anything is wrong. The problem with tests, is that they are designed for crisis identification. They’re looking for structural or chemical changes that may not be severe enough yet to show up. As far too many patients have recounted to me, “you just have to get sicker before we can figure this out”.  Of course by that time, you’re in real trouble.

Furthering the ineffectiveness sometimes in finding the cause of your symptoms is the compartmentalization of modern medicine. If your stomach hurts, you go to an internist or gastroenterologist. If your red flag is heart related, you go do a cardiologist. There is an “ist” for every part of your body. But the body tells us in more than one way when something is wrong. For instance, cataracts, osteoporosis, arthritis, gall stones, kidney stones and bone spurs all have one etiology in common: calcium metabolism issues.  But each of these conditions require a different “ist”, a different specialist to see.

Symptoms are important. Not just individually, but collectively. It is important that you see a practitioner that looks at the interrelationships of all symptoms, then treat the picture, not just the individual pieces – the symptoms.

©2022 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.

Dr. Holly Carling

Dr. Holly Carling

Dr. Holly Carling is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and Master Herbologist with nearly four decades of experience. Dr. Carling is a “Health Detective,” she looks beyond your symptom picture and investigates WHY you are experiencing your symptoms in the first place. Dr. Carling considers herself a “professional student” – she has attended more than 600 post-secondary education courses related to health and healing. Dr. Carling gives lectures here in the U.S. and internationally and has been noted as the “Doctor’s Doctor”. When other healthcare practitioners hit a roadblock when treating their patients nutritionally, Dr. Carling is who they call. Dr. Carling is currently accepting new patients and offers natural health care services and whole food nutritional supplements in her Coeur d’ Alene clinic.

Medical/Health Disclaimer:

The information provided in this article or podcast should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. No action should be taken based solely on the contents of this article or podcast. Readers/listeners should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. The information and opinions provided here are believed to be accurate and sound, based on the best judgment available to the author, but readers/listeners who fail to consult appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.

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