Are You Confusing What is Common With What is Normal?
First some definitions:
Common: Occurring or happening regularly or frequently.
Normal: Healthy, without signs or symptoms of sickness or illness.
Here’s why I’m making this distinction. I often have patients comment that “oh, I have to take Advil the first two days of my period every month, but that’s normal”. Or “I have a bowel movement every day or two, but that’s normal”. I would like to point out that, neither of the above is normal, common yes, but not normal. We commonly make assumptions about something that we’ve been living with for a long time or have always had, or our mothers always had, or our best friend has too, is “normal”. Sometimes we need to examine these assumptions in order to move forward and achieve better health. Here’s a brief list of some things that I find are common but not normal:
What Symptoms are Common?
- Constipation i.e. bowel movements less than 1-3 times per day
- Headaches with change in weather, stress, PMS
- Menstrual cramping
- Hot flashes, night sweats, depression at menopause
- Heartburn or the need to take antacids
- Exhaustion when you get home from work
- Cravings for salt and/or sugar
- Up 1-3 times per night to the washroom
- Back pain on waking
- Need to eat every couple of hours or will get weak, shaky, irritable or headache-y
- A head rush when standing up too quickly
What is Normal?
- Bowel movements 1-3 times per day, every day, typically after eating
- No headaches or excess muscle tension
- Pain-free periods
- Other than the date, no sign that your period is due
- At menopause your periods just stop
- No heartburn or antacids
- Energy to be active in the evening until at least 8 p.m.
- No food cravings
- No night waking or need to urinate at night
- Free and easy movement any time of day
- Able to forgo eating all day if desired without repercussions
- Able to change position without a head rush, or feeling faint
I could go on, but you get the picture. As a society we make assumptions about what is normal based on what everyone has or does, but true health requires ongoing assessment of where we are at and where we would like to be and then making use of all the tools at our disposal to get there. As a naturopathic doctor, I have many options to turn common into normal.
By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc, ND. Contact Pamela at 416.481.0222 or book online now.