If you’re not paying attention, you could be risking your health.
Cancer: Unexplained weight loss
While you might think that unexpected weight loss is a stroke of good luck, it may be a sign that something is wrong. An early symptom of many types of cancer, including leukemia, stomach cancer, esophageal cancer, pancreatic cancer and lung cancer, is unexplained weight loss. If you haven’t changed your diet or exercise habits and yet you’re dropping pounds, it’s time to see the doctor.
Leukemia: Flu-like symptoms
Symptoms of leukemia can be subtle and are easily misinterpreted. Early on, people with leukemia will often experience flu-like symptoms including fever, chills, fatigue and swollen lymph nodes. If these symptoms are paired with others such as red spots on the skin, frequent nosebleeds or unexplained bruising, see a doctor right away.
Heart disease: Shoulder and neck pain
Neck and shoulder pain could just be a sign that you slouch too much, but there are other possible causes that shouldn’t be ignored. These pains are a warning sign of heart disease as nerve pathways may cause pain to spread from the chest to the shoulders and neck. Don’t just go get a massage — talk to a cardiologist or other doctor to hear how you can better care for your heart.
Chronic kidney disease: Swelling of the feet and hands
Chronic kidney disease occurs when the kidneys gradually stop functioning properly, resulting in waste and fluid buildup in the body. It’s known as a “silent” killer since symptoms often don’t show up until the disease has already progressed. One sign that your kidneys are in trouble is swelling of the hands and feet, often due to fluid buildup in the extremities. If you notice this symptom alongside others such as nausea, fatigue and changes in urination, there is definitely cause for concern.
Diabetes: Frequent urination and thirst
Are you always thirsty, yet also always running to the bathroom? This could be an early warning sign of diabetes. Diabetes slows the body’s ability to process sugar in the bloodstream. Your body gets rid of this extra sugar through urine. This makes urination more frequent, which also flushes water from your system. You’re likely to feel more dehydrated than usual, regardless of whether you’re drinking enough water every day.
Liver disease: Bruising easily
Normally, the liver creates blood clotting proteins essential for healing. However, if your liver is in trouble, it may not function as efficiently. This can result in bruises that pop up easily and excessive bleeding when you have a cut or other injury to the skin. These symptoms are hard to catch since you might not think anything of it when you keep finding bruises. But it could be a sign that something is wrong.
Stomach ulcers: Bloating and indigestion
Left untreated, stomach ulcers can worsen and turn into bleeding ulcers, which can be life-threatening. Bloating and stomach pain can occur for many less-serious reasons, so often times people will shrug it off and maybe eat a snack that could help tame bloat. But if it becomes a chronic issue, a stomach ulcer could be to blame.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder: Breathlessness
Trouble breathing or breathlessness is sometimes chalked up to just a normal symptom of aging and is therefore often overlooked. However, it’s a serious warning sign that your lungs are in trouble. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a blanket term used to describe progressive and incurable lung diseases, which are one of the most common silent killers in America.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome: Irregular or missed periods
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is often overlooked by patients and medical providers. Missing a period here and there is relatively normal, but if your period is irregular for many months, it could be a sign that something is wrong. Diet changes, aging and other factors may also mess with your cycle. But a missed or irregular period is also a symptom of PCOS. Left undiagnosed, PCOS can lead to infertility and other health problems such as metabolic disorders.
Sleep apnea: Loud snoring
Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person will intermittently stop breathing while asleep. This can interfere with the body’s ability to get enough oxygen and can increase the risk of a number of health problems, including heart disease and stroke. People with sleep apnea are more likely to be loud snorers. While snoring is usually benign, if you start snoring loudly in later stages of your life when you previously did not, it may be worth mentioning to your doctor.
Sometimes, a symptom in one part of the body may be a sign of a problem in another part of the body. Moreover, unrelated symptoms that might be minor on their own could be warning signs of a more serious medical disease or condition. Listen to your body, note all symptoms, and share them in detail with your doctor. Stay aware, stay healthy.