7 Health Regrets and How to Avoid Them

Doctor performs a health check on a child


Save your future self (and your future health) by taking care of these common medical warnings.


Some health issues start off small before turning into serious regrets. Here's a look at some of the ways you could be harming your long-term health, and how to make a change now to save your future self a fortune in medical expenses.


Keeping Secrets from Your GP


Lying to your doc is lying to yourself. Doctors rely on the information you give them to build a comprehensive picture about the signs and symptoms you're experiencing, and then offer a diagnosis. 'Inaccurate information can lead to misinterpreted symptoms, overlooked warning signs, wrong diagnoses, inappropriate treatments or tests, incorrect medications – all with the potential to cost a [patient their] health, or even a life,' warns Dr Deidré Reed, aka Dr Rinky, a Somerset West GP with over 20 years' experience.


The most common reason for white lies and omissions? Embarrassment, says Dr Rinky, 'about lifestyle choices like diet, exercise, smoking and alcohol consumption, and also not following doctors' advice.'


The Late-night/Early-morning Combo


For adults, missing out on the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep can have several long-term side effects. These include weight gain, trouble with memory and concentration, weakened immunity, an increase in blood pressure and mood instability (including losing the mood for sexy time).


The more serious health concerns that a lack of shut-eye can bring about include heart disease and diabetes. If you struggle with poor sleep quality for more than 30 days, then go see a doctor. The same applies if your daily tasks are starting to be negatively impacted by your inability to concentrate.


Not Wearing Sunscreen


Protecting your skin is worth it! After all, it's your largest organ and the one that keeps everything else together. 'Regular daily use of at least SPF 15 sunscreen (that blocks UVA and UVB rays) can reduce your risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) by about 40%, and lower your melanoma risk by 50%,' Dr Rinky says. 'It will also help prevent premature skin ageing caused by the sun, including wrinkles, sagging and age spots.'


Sitting Too Much


Sitting is the new smoking. You've heard the warning before, and it's not an exaggeration. Backache, poor posture and stiff joints aren't the only pain points from favouring the chair too much. Heart disease, dementia, diabetes, deep vein thrombosis and generally a shorter life span are some of the other health risks, and they only increase the more time you spend sitting.


Sitting is hard to avoid these days, especially when your daily commute is the distance from your bed to your #WFH desk. Try to break up your prolonged seating time by:
opting for a stand-up desk, even if it's just for some of the time taking breaks where you stretch or get up from your desk every hour or so applying those same breaks to couch time including walks, outdoor time and/or exercise in your daily routine


Brushing Too Soon After Drinks or Meals

Just downed a fizzy drink? Had some yoghurt for breakfast? If you've consumed something acidic, then it's better not to brush your teeth right away. Acids typically weaken tooth enamel, and brushing immediately could accidentally remove it. Enamel is important in protecting your teeth against decay, infection and temperature sensitivity. But brushing your teeth twice a day, usually morning and night, for at least two minutes is still the easiest checkbox to tick for good oral hygiene.


Pumping Up the Volume


According to Harvard's Health Blog, 'exposure to sound levels above 85 dB (equal to a lawnmower or leaf blower) can cause possible ear damage with exposure of more than two hours, while exposure to sound of 105 to 110 dB [the average maximum volume of personal listening devices] can cause damage in five minutes.'


Dr Rinky's tips on how to avoid noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL):
Wear earplugs or other protective devices when you're involved in a loud activity.
If you can't reduce the noise or protect yourself from it, move away from it.
Have your hearing tested if you think you might have hearing loss.


Feeding Your Regret Monsters


Mental health is as important as physical health when it comes to enjoying a long, good life. Regret is one contributing factor to poor mental health, affecting how you're able to move forward after making poor decisions.


'One of the common symptoms of chronic regret is a feeling of helplessness,' says Dr Rinky. 'Helplessness may take hold of you and consume your thoughts, making it difficult to cope. This can then lead to a spiral of guilty and negative thoughts, and then anxiety and depression. But regret can also be an important tool that shows how much we learn from our mistakes and acknowledge our weaknesses.'


Finding the right Medical Aid for you is a big part of taking advantage of your doctor-patient relationship, so before you commit, Hippo it!


This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal or medical advice.

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