We’re taught from an early age that our minds and bodies are intertwined.
Because of this connection, not all physical responses are brought on by sickness or injury, but can instead be caused by what’s going on inside our heads.
For lawyers, that means a lot of signals that could be symptoms of serious health afflictions are actually indicative of (or exacerbated by) the extreme stress that so many of us experience. However, there are some signals our bodies send that shouldn’t always be ignored, no matter how tempting it is to brush them off as your body’s response to a super stressful week. Read on for some of the top examples—and don’t be afraid to call a doctor if anything sounds familiar.
Unplanned Weight Loss
Losing weight can be healthy and make you feel and look great … but only if you’re doing it on purpose. If you’re losing weight but haven’t changed your eating or exercising habits, your body might be telling you something’s wrong. A couple pounds here or there is likely OK, but if you unexpectedly lose 10 pounds or more, it’s time to call a doctor. Weight loss can be a sign of many afflictions, from thyroid disease to celiac disease to cancer.
Sharp Stomach Pains
We’ve all experienced stomach aches from eating something that didn’t agree with us. Stomach pains can also simply be a sign of stress (and a common one, at that). However, sudden, intense, and sharp stomach pains should never be ignored. Sharp pain on your lower right side could indicate appendicitis, but pain in other areas around your abdomen might also indicate a ruptured ovarian cyst, gallstones, or even a serious blood flow issue.
Working around the clock as many lawyers do, it’s a fact of life that you’re going to be tired. But if you’re always extremely tired, to the point that your work suffers, you’re unable to drag yourself out of bed, or you can just tell your fatigue suddenly feels different despite getting enough sleep, it’s time to get some help. Even the most overworked lawyers shouldn’t be seriously exhausted all the time. Extreme fatigue can be caused by a myriad of conditions, including anemia, depression—or if you snore—sleep apnea.
Sudden Severe Headache
Staring at screens all day, as so many of us do, is known to cause headaches. But a sudden, intense bout of pain in your head—particularly if you’re not a frequent headache sufferer, or if the pain is worse than anything you’ve previously experienced—is a sign you should contact a doctor immediately. Severe head pain can be a sign of serious, life-threatening conditions like aneurysms or burst blood vessels.
Yes, plenty of us visit the bathroom more frequently than usual thanks to nerves (especially if you’ve heard the judge assigned to your case is a tough cookie). But needing to use the bathroom excessively is also a sign from your body that things aren’t right. It could be a sign something’s pressing on your bladder, that you have a urinary tract infection, or even that you have diabetes. Frequent urination is a sure-fire reason to check in with a doctor.
Chest Pain or Discomfort
Indigestion, stress, and gas can cause chest pains. But so can serious heart afflictions. While not every heart attack comes with severe chest pain (especially heart attacks in women), it’s important to take action if you feel discomfort that lasts longer than a few minutes. Especially if your chest pain is accompanied by nausea, shortness of breath, heartburn, or stomach pain. Don’t hesitate to call 911.
Confusion or Trouble Communicating
As with most conditions, the symptoms of a stroke or other brain issue differ from person to person. But if you’re suddenly seriously confused, struggling to find the necessary words to communicate, or have difficulty speaking because of numbness or weakness in your face, you should get to a hospital immediately. While certain medications and even low blood pressure or dehydration can cause such symptoms, you’ll want to rule out the most serious causes with a doctor ASAP.
Remember: Never self-diagnose. While it can be tempting to hit up the internet as soon as you notice something’s feeling off, you’re more likely to make yourself feel anxious than you are to stumble on what’s actually happening in your body. When it comes to your health, an abundance of caution is always the right move, so reach out to a medical professional if something feels wrong.