Your Labs Are “Normal,” but You’re Not Okay—What Do You Do?

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by Dawn Siglain, ND, LAc

Have you ever gone to the doctor with a symptom, or perhaps a handful of symptoms, only to be told after a review of your lab results, “But you are healthy. There is nothing wrong with you. Your labs are ‘normal.’” To some, this news may be a relief, while to others, it can be very frustrating. To me, it empowers me every day to do what I do as a naturopathic doctor (ND). 

The body has three levels of communicating to you when something is out of balance.  First, it whispers to you. Then it talks to you. And finally it screams at you. Ideally, it’s best to get medical attention in the first stage. However, there are a couple of things that can prevent a patient from seeking care to receive the proper attention needed. With the busy lifestyles that most people lead, it is often difficult to find time to go to the doctor.  So, in the beginning stages, when the body is whispering or talking to you, health can often be put on the back burner. Secondly, if you do seek medical care, whatever is putting your health at risk may not show up on routine lab work. This leaves the provider with no diagnosis in order to treat you. Oftentimes, palliative treatment is all that can be done. However, that is still not treating the underlying cause, which then allows for an illness to get progressively worse. Who wants that?

This is where naturopathic medicine shines! NDs often assess lab markers differently to hone in on the specific cause that may be ailing a patient. We do this by using narrower reference ranges when assessing labs. This means that even though a lab result may be in the normal range for one practitioner, an ND would red flag it and focus recommendations to work on improving that specific lab marker. This attention to fine detail can make all the difference in improving someone’s health. We can also make diet and lifestyle changes that may stop a disease right in its tracks. Using supplementation by giving the body nutrients that it may be deficient in can also get someone back on track to optimal health. Oftentimes, giving the body what it needs can realign someone’s state of wellness. 

Here’s the typical scenario: A patient’s lab work shows no abnormal findings, yet their symptoms are affecting their daily life and they are unwell. Since there is no diagnosis, there is no treatment according to conventional medicine. There may be symptomatic care, but what they need is a doctor to treat the root cause. The reality is their body is telling them to pay attention, slow down and assess their health. Naturopathic medicine can help. This is because NDs treat the underlying cause of the disease. 

People should be empowered to take charge of their health. This includes having an enjoyable visit to your doctor, so you want to make seeking medical attention part of your lifestyle. This may seem wildly odd, but trust me when I tell you that a doctor’s appointment can actually be inspiring. Ideally, checking in with your healthcare provider at least a few times a year is the best self-care for yourself. Paying a visit to your doctor on a regular basis should be encouraged and also something that patients want to do. This is precisely what NDs provide.    

We understand we are treating human beings with emotions and desires, as well as ailments. Our medicine is preventive. NDs have training in medical school to detect dis-ease in patients before it manifests into something worse. We know we are not simply reflections of our lab results. If your labs are fine, but you have the feeling that something is wrong, I want you to know you can search for doctors that will listen and help you figure out how you can help yourself feel better again. When your body is whispering or talking to you, it is precisely the time when action toward health needs to be made. Intervention is key. Finding a practitioner that will listen and help is the way to go.

It could be a myriad of factors affecting one’s health. That is why during an initial visit with an ND, they will spend 90 minutes getting to know you. It is important to take a detailed medical history to assess one’s labs, nutrition, stress levels, exercise habits, and other lifestyle choices. Something as simple as throwing away that stash of chocolate bars can help alleviate migraines. For the most part, patients that search for naturopathic care are at the first or second stage of their bodies’ distress. However, we do have patients at the third stage. No matter what stage you are at, NDs will help in whatever way we can.

Patients are people, not a diagnosis. We are all unique, which means we respond to life’s stressors differently. We need to deal with patients just as they come—listen to them and then create a recommendation plan that suits just them. If labs fail to prove a diagnosis, then the goal is to reverse their symptoms before a diagnosis arises. Patients do not need a diagnosis to receive medical attention. They simply need the desire to feel well again, plus make the effort necessary to get back on the path to wellness. An ND will get to the root cause of your symptoms, which can bring you back to your vital state of health.

Dr. Dawn Siglain is a naturopathic doctor, licensed acupuncturist, and reiki practitioner at Inner Source Health, in Huntington. She utilizes both Western and Eastern medicine, including talk therapy, botanical medicine, homeopathy, Bach remedies, nutritional supplementation, and trigger point therapy. For more information, call 631-421-1848 or visit InnerSourceHealth.com.

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