Many autoimmune diseases begin after a period of suboptimal health. Suboptimal health can be described as being somewhere between a diagnosed illness and vibrant health. Long before illness, our body starts sending us warning signs in the form of ‘minor’ symptoms, pain, discomfort, or weakness.
I went to bed early last night, but I still feel tired!
I’m eating healthily but I am still experiencing stomach pain!
Why do I have a migraine, again?
Most of us try to ignore those warning signs by taking medication; usually so that we can just continue on with our busy lives as normal. When was the last time you stopped to question why you get that headache, lower back pain, skin rashes, acne, stomach pain or acid reflux? These are the many ways the body cries out for help and are actually signs of imbalance in the body. We see them as a nuisance and hope popping a pill will deal with it. But, unfortunately for many, if these symptoms are left to continue then eventually the body can become overwhelmed or unable to cope and disease can set in. We think that suddenly we are struck with ‘X’ disease, without realising that often it is a process that has been happening for some time, even decades, before we eventually have a diagnosable condition.
I remember vividly my first appointment at the NHS diabetic clinic in 2002. I was at the hospital after my initial diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, where I was to learn what a ‘day in the life of a diabetic' would be like. I was overwhelmed and consumed with thoughts about my sudden life change. I thought back over the past months how I had experienced all the typical symptoms of type 1 diabetes but had decided to ignore them. I was feeling upset with myself. Why did I choose to ignore it all? Why didn’t I act more quickly when I started losing an inexplicable amount of weight, drinking pints of water, experiencing blurry vision and fatigue. I chose to ignore those symptoms and justified it as just symptoms of being busy. I really didn’t think about it.
For some people, symptoms may be experienced just before diagnosis, such as a viral infection, but for others they can trace their symptoms as far back as childhood. Symptoms such as abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhoea, chronic ear infections, headaches, skin rashes or hay fever are often experienced in people who are eventually diagnosed with an autoimmune condition in adulthood. Thinking back, I’ve experienced gut problems for as long as I can remember. I had chronic acne all through my teenage years and well into adulthood. I also experienced terrible pain in my knee joints where I had an arthroscopy on each knee in my teens to reduce the loose cartilage and drain excess fluid.
So, if you are experiencing symptoms, you may be wondering what you can do about it? Firstly, we must become better at listening to our bodies, listen to that gut feeling! Our bodies are constantly talking to us. Instead of trying to suppress your symptoms with medication, we need to tune in and notice how we are feeling, the key is to become more aware. Are you experiencing any pain, discomfort, weakness? Are you overly worried, anxious or feeling depressed?
Then secondly, explore what may be the underlying cause. Are you eating a diet full of processed foods and devoid of all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to heal and repair? Are you over exercising, or under exercising? Are you on your device until late at night so that you are unable to get a restful, restorative nights sleep? Are you in a ‘toxic’ relationship, or experiencing high levels of stress on a daily basis where you are unable to relax and unwind? Are you living your life’s purpose?
The good news is that your body has an amazing ability to heal itself. It is always striving to bring about balance. When you give it everything it needs, then symptoms can slowly subside, inflammation can be eliminated, and vibrant health can be achieved.
If you need help interpreting your body’s many symptoms and signals and would like to find your way back to vibrant health, then please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Kylie.