By Dr. Erin Stefanacci DC CFMP
There are many, many things that can cause our bodies to be out of balance, from disease and infection to deficiencies and malnutrition. Yet, there are only a certain amount of symptoms we can express. One person’s reasons for digestive discomfort likely does not have the same cause as someone else with the same symptoms. So, how can your doctor help you in the most successful way? You got it, by asking the right questions!
There are seven questions I always ask my patients. Although there are always follow up questions and conversations, these six give me a foundation to start with. Imagine it like a road map, where the more I learn about you, the more dead ends I can avoid.
Have you ever been abused, a victim of a crime, or experienced significant trauma? Trauma looks different for many people. It can be divorce, experiencing natural disasters, a rough childhood, anaphylactic shock, a car accident, moving to a new location, a serious diagnosis, and the list goes on. All trauma has the potential to influence health on a physical level. If trauma is at the root of the issue, it should absolutely be addressed.
What do you eat on a typical day? One of my favorite sayings is, “you can’t supplement [or medicate] your way out of a bad diet,” and it’s true! Foods can either help to heal or hurt you. Many people have hidden food intolerances that without exploration are hard to find. Others are just not eating the ‘right’ foods which stimulate inflammation within the body.
Any known toxin exposure? Did you know that carpets, couches, cleaning products, and most deodorant [just to name a few] contain chemicals that are disruptive to the normal physiology of the body? And those are things that we are exposed to EVERY DAY! Not to mention all the things that you can be exposed to in passing or due to work conditions. Your liver should effectively be able to rid the body of these toxins but some people have more exposure and over time the toxins will tend to build up in the body causing symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, difficulty thinking and concentrating, dizziness and joint pain.
Were you delivered via vaginal birth or c-section? Did you know that babies delivered via c-section have different bacteria than babies delivered vaginally? Babies born vaginally are colonized with the mother’s bacteria, while babies delivered by c-section are colonized with a blend of bacteria from the nursing staff and hospital environment. Understandably, vaginal birth is not possible for all mothers and babies.
Were you breastfed or bottle-fed? Breastfed babies get tons of antibodies and other germ-fighting bacteria passed on from mom through the milk. Which explains why breastfed babies tend to have less illness and hospitalizations than formula-fed babies. Breastmilk helps to populate a healthy microbiome that persists throughout life and can lead to better health outcomes.
How often do you have bowel movements and what does it look like? Yes, bowel movements can indicate that you are doing great or suggest health challenges before you know that they are there. Having a bowel movement regularly (ideally, every day) has many benefits, from getting rid of toxins to helping with healthy hormones. If you are curious to see what your poo says about you, check out this Bristol Stool Chart which will give you lots of good information about your health based on your bathroom habits.
How are you managing the stress in your life? Stress is something that not many of us can get away from but it’s how stress is managed that matters. Poor stress management can cause an increase in cortisol levels which contributes to things like difficulty losing weight, gastrointestinal issues, difficulty sleeping and concentrating, insulin resistance, mood swings, anxiety and depression.
Has your doctor asked you these questions?