So this isn’t a dig at men, who used to have a reputation for being too stoic for going to the doctor until there was a REALLY big reason to. I just wanted to open up the conversation about our partners, family members, friends or colleagues. Male or female, young or not so young. There’s always someone that you know who is the ‘tough cookie’ – never seems to complain, never seems to get ill and always seems to be on the go, helping others, or cleaning out a shed, or washing windows on an unstable ladder (just my dad?!). But nothing ever happens to them, right? So we don’t have to worry about them?
But what happens when we do start to worry about this ‘tough cookie’? They may have been yawning a little more recently, they may have started to crash on the couch a bit earlier than usual. You notice their jokes aren’t as frequent or they complain about a few niggles here and there (‘just a bit of heartburn darl, nothing to worry about’). Sound familiar? Now, there’s no need to panic just yet. They may just be a bit knackered and nothing is wrong. But, sometimes it can be more than that, and over time the symptoms get worse and the problem becomes bigger until there is a major event like they faint, fall over, or (and let’s hope it doesn’t come to this) a diagnosis with a major health condition like a heart attack.
So what are some signs to look out for so you know that something is up? If you start to notice the following regularly, it is worth encouraging them to see a doctor right away. The same goes for you if you are experiencing any of these. I’ve put below some tips and tricks for convincing someone who ‘hasn’t seen a doc in years’ to have their health checked.
Symptoms to watch for:
1. Getting tired easily
Did your partner used to have plenty of energy and was always the life of the party but is now happy to lie around on the weekends. Falling asleep on the couch watching tv most nights? So it may be a sign that they have a cold, or are just a bit rundown and worn out and need a break. However it can also be a sign that the body is not getting enough energy due to a lack of oxygen, the heart not pumping as efficiently as it should, infection, restricted blood flow or can be a symptom of cancer. Always good to get fatigue that lasts more than a few weeks checked out.
2. Complaining of aches and pains
This is a difficult one as often the person won’t be complaining. But if you start to notice that they are having more difficulty moving around, or are having any signs of chest, jaw, arm, back or generalised pain, it’s time to get it checked. If you see them popping more pain pills than usual, they may be masking the problem. Ask a few questions about how long they’ve had the pain and whether they’ve had it checked out.
Heartburn can be several things including quite simply the sign of a rich, excessively large meal. However if it’s happening regularly it’s not normal. Taking lots of antacids just to get through the day is only masking the problem. It could be as simple as changing something in the diet however heartburn can also be a symptom of cardiovascular disease and a lot of people report that they suffered from heartburn in the lead up to their heart attack. Worth checking with a doctor asap.
4. Getting short of breath
If you notice that they are breathing more heavily than usual or that activities that used to be easy they are now huffing and puffing, this can be a sign of something serious. Whilst they may brush it off as a lack of fitness, heavy breathing doing regular daily activities is not normal and could be related to the heart.
5. Excessive sweating
Sweat is a normal bodily function, don’t get me wrong. And often we have that ‘sweaty’ friend. But if you notice someone is sweating more than usual, they should get checked out by a doctor as it may indicate something more serious.
If you notice several of these symptoms come on suddenly at once or you know that something is just ‘not right’, it’s time to call an ambulance without delay as it may indicate a serious condition such as a heart attack.
How to convince someone to see a doctor
Now, at the end of the day, an adult has the right to do as they please and ignore your advice. However if you feel it’s in their best interest to see a doctor (even just to give you both peace of mind. Ok even just to give YOU peace of mind!) here are some tips on convincing them to go…
1. Gentle encouragement
It’s worth a casual conversation as a starting point. Simply start with ‘have you had that checked out’ next time something comes up like their breathing or pain.
2. The name drop
A few casual hints about a friend that had a similar experience can help too as they don’t feel like they are the only one who’s ever been to the doctor with that symptom.
3. A (little) bit of trickery
If you’re really worried and you have tried a few different things, you could always say something like ‘I’m just renewing the travel insurance and it says we need to have our blood pressure checked before we travel’.
4. Be a bit more forceful
State that it’s important to you to reassure you that the people closest to you are in the best possible health. And you won’t be reassured until they’ve had a health ‘MOT’.
5. Try letting them come up with the idea themselves
Let them know that you’re concerned and say something like ‘I’d really feel better if you got things checked out however I understand that you may not feel comfortable doing that right now’. Leave it at that and hopefully they will have a think and decide themselves to make an appointment.
Please share below in the comments any ideas that have helped you and your partner/friends/family get your health checked.
Please note that the information provided is a guide only and does not take into account your individual circumstances. Please seek advice from a medical professional if you are worried about your or someone else’s health.