The body is an almost miraculous, self-healing being, and if cared for properly, it will usually last for a good, long lifetime. If you have survived the ills of childhood and have reached the age of 25 without incurring serious, long-term illnesses, your body is probably able to take care of potential assaults from the outside, including most micro-organisms and trauma from minor accidents. However, the body, like any reliable vehicle, must be carefully maintained. If you lead a healthy lifestyle, you can trust your body to heal itself most of the time without having to visit a physician for simple sniffles or coughs or stomach upsets, or after minor damage from cuts and bruises.
However, a few warning signals should not be ignored, even in a healthy person. If you experience any of the following signs, a physician should be consulted immediately.
- Bleeding from any orifice. If blood comes from the eyes, nose, ears, mouth or anus, this is usually a sign of trouble inside the body.
- Fever above 103 degrees Fahrenheit indicates that the body is trying to fight a very serious infection.
- Loss of consciousness, other than during normal sleep, indicates a problem in the brain or in its blood supply. This can also be signaled by sudden and lasting confusion, loss of vision, or loss of ability to control movement.
- Stabbing pain in any area of the body, but particularly in the chest or abdomen, can signal heart disease or serious gastrointestinal problems, such as appendicitis or intestinal blockage These can have deadly consequences.
- Serious difficulty with breathing can signal a potentially deadly acute allergic reaction that may even result in anaphylactic shock (loss of blood fluid volume because of a systemic allergic reaction) or possibly a blood clot in the lungs. Asthmatics usually know the symptoms of an asthmatic attack, and these should also be treated quickly, but may or may not require a doctor’s visit.
- A severe blow to the head, particularly in the region of the temples—even without loss of consciousness—can lead to a delayed, life-threatening build-up of pressure on the brain. It is important to verify that there has been no internal bleeding.
In the absence of symptoms such as those listed above, probably the best long-term strategy for maintaining health is:
- eat a healthy diet,
- get adequate sleep and exercise, and
- allow the body to heal itself if you experience normal communicable diseases such as colds, flu, occasional stomach upsets, or headaches.
If you go to a physician for diseases that are temporary and not life-threatening, the doctor will probably prescribe medicine, thinking you expect it, and the medicine could do more harm than good.
Many studies now indicate that doing nothing (or taking a placebo) for ordinary illnesses may have better outcomes than seeking medical help. This is clearly understood by physicians, who tend to go to doctors less frequently than the general public. Because doctors know the potential danger signals, they understand when a physical problem is serious and when it is likely to go away on its own. Homeopathic medicine may be “effective” in many cases simply because the patient is receiving essentially no medication, and the body is allowed to heal itself. If you talk to those who have lived very long lives, one of the things they will say is that they rarely go to the doctor, and they seldom take medicine, other than coffee, tea, or a little wine. Do they not go to doctors because they are so healthy, or are they healthy because they don’t often visit doctors?