How do we interpret the many symptoms that we may experience in our bodies over time? In most cases, simple symptoms will come and go as the body detects and corrects problems it encounters, such as an achy back or neck, a flu bug, a sprained ankle, a bug bite, or a sunburn. But what happens if the symptom you’ve noticed does not go away? Well, that may be a sign of a problem that needs some outside help. A persistent symptom can present a decision point. Do you ignore the symptom, calling it “just getting old,” resigning yourself to progressively decreasing function? OR, do you look at the symptom as a signal from your body of a project that needs attention? It’s possible that the symptom you’ve been experiencing, that just hasn’t gone away, is a sign of an iceberg (a bigger health problem that needs attention) lurking under the surface. If you identify an iceberg, most of the time you’ll have the opportunity to change course and save the ship; however, not paying enough attention to the iceberg may have different consequences.
For example: having regular headaches is not normal. Yes, a lot of people experience them... but they're not normal, or everyone would have them all the time! Regular headaches are a sign that the nervous system is overloaded and easily irritated. What might overload the nervous system? Lots of stuff. Physical, chemical, emotional stress; dehydration, lack of sleep; illness. Is the headache itself a problem, or is the headache a sign of another underlying problem that, if you solved it, would eliminate the headache (the outwards symptom of the real problem)? One leading cause of headaches is dysfunction of the structure and/or function of the neck spine. If this is the case for YOUR headaches, identification and correction of this underlying problem will probably result in elimination of the symptom it causes, your headaches. Sounds pretty good, right? Conversely, if you ignore the symptom, and the underlying neck spine dysfunction is never identified or corrected, it may progress, and arthritic damage may result, permanently compromising the neck’s structure and function. So perhaps when we have a symptom, we might ask this question: “Why am I experiencing this symptom, and what might it be telling me about what my body needs? Is there an underlying cause for this symptom that needs attention or correction? What might happen if I ignore it? Can it get worse?”
Many people will simply take a drug to silence a given symptom, so that they can go about tackling their ever-growing to-do list. That can help for a while, but it’s a bit like taking the batteries out of the smoke detector when it’s going off – the noise might go away, but the fire’s still burning. If a symptom keeps coming back, it’s usually because the symptom is indeed the "tip of an iceberg." It’s a cry for help, indicating that a larger problem lurks beneath the surface. A persistent symptom is not to be ignored with an “oh, it’s nothing… I can live with it” any more than an iceberg is to be ignored or underestimated by a ship’s captain.
Pay attention to your body. Notice; bear witness. Most of the symptoms you will experience are transient, and part of a natural healing process executed by the body. However, if you are having a persistent symptom, find a healthcare provider who can help you get some answers as to what you're experiencing, and who can give you some options as to how to steer your ship in a different direction... towards health.