Part 1: Look Out for Your Spouse

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Watch for signs of health concerns

In life, your spouse is your number one, your partner in crime, the person who has your back. Make no mistake, there's no exception when it comes to each other's health.

It can be difficult to see yourself as clearly as your spouse does, so it's no wonder that he or she is often the one to first notice signs of potential health concerns.

Here are a few things your spouse's extra set of eyes might catch before you do.

Alarming sleep habits

Your sweetheart is far more likely to notice symptoms of sleep apnea than you are. Lying next to you at night gives your spouse a front-row seat to observe your snoring, gasps for breath, or even momentary lapses in breathing, which are the three most common signs of sleep apnea.

Another clue? You may notice your partner complaining of perpetual tiredness, to the point that he or she could fall asleep any time of day. You might chalk it up to too much work or not enough sleep, but a sleep disorder may be to blame.

A change in mood

According to family medicine physician Brian Jones, MD, on the medical staff at Methodist Family Health Center - Cedar Hill East, depression is probably underdiagnosed and undertreated because symptoms can be nonspecific. However, there are clues to look for.

Wives tend to notice that their husbands are increasingly more irritable - the most common outward symptom in men - whereas husbands might note their wives crying more frequently.

You may also notice a decrease in your spouse's libido, poor sleeping, or a general loss of enjoyment in favorite activities.

Spots and bumps on the skin

Some spots on the body are hard to reach and others are even harder to see, like the upper back or the back of the thigh or neck. But your spouse has a great view and can more easily notice bumps, spots, moles, or sores that could indicate various medical conditions.

Take the time to check each other regularly, and keep Dr. Jones' ABCDE list in mind when you do:

  • Asymmetry: Is the growth asymmetrical?
  • Border: Does the growth have a ragged border?
  • Color: Are there multiple colors, or is the growth dark in color?
  • Diameter: Is the growth larger than a pencil eraser?
  • Evolution: Has the spot changed over time?

The ABCDE tip is a starting point in evaluating skin lesions as signs of skin cancer, but not all skin cancers will appear this way. If you have concerns, it's always best to see your doctor for a professional opinion, Dr. Jones counsels.

For more common skin conditions, like rashes, sores, and bug bites, Dr. Jones encourages seeking a professional's opinion if there is no improvement in three to seven days. During that time, avoid using household or over-the-counter treatments for the skin condition if you are not sure what is causing it. It could change the appearance of the condition and make it harder for the doctor to diagnose.

Unbalanced blood sugars

Nearly 10 percent of the U.S. population has diabetes, but a shocking almost 30 percent of them don't know it! If you're picking up on more frequent urination, complaints of blurry vision, or excessive thirst from your spouse, he or she could have prediabetes or have type 2 diabetes already.

Blood pressure problems

High blood pressure is unfortunately very hit and miss as far as being symptomatic, Dr. Jones explains. How can you tell if your spouse is suffering from high blood pressure? You may not be able to, but the two most common signs will be fatigue and headaches.

These are two common maladies, so don't jump to the conclusion that your loved one has high blood pressure. But if you've heard these complaints, it might be worth it to get their blood pressure numbers checked.

Poor posture and pain

Although commonly associated with white women over the age of 50, osteoporosis can strike men and other ethnicities at any age. It's often called a silent disease because it is symptomless as it progresses, but take note if your partner starts mentioning back pain or if you've noticed a hunched posture.

Now, the hard part ...

Identifying health issues is the easy part - just keep your eyes and ears open. But talking to your husband or wife about seeing a doctor for those issues is another story altogether. Fortunately, we've got some tips for you. Check out part 2 of this blog, "Looking Out for Your Spouse: How to Have the Talk."

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