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12 Health Signs You Should Never Ignore

By , SparkPeople Blogger
In our mile-a-minute, super-stressed world, it's all too easy to dismiss symptoms or allow them to be drowned out by the noise of life—especially if there's an underlying fear or anxiety of seeing a doctor. For those on weight-loss journeys, ailments are often chalked up to a side effect of being overweight or obese, when they actually could have more serious implications. In many cases, medical red flags go unheeded until they ultimately result in a more serious or even life-threatening emergency. If you notice any of these health signs, take action right away—your life could depend on it.
1. Facial Drooping or Difficulty Talking
These are common warning signs for stroke, and should never be ignored. "Recognizing these signs and getting treatment quickly can literally stop a stroke in its tracks, save brain tissue and reduce the damage done," says Matt Likins, physical therapist with 1st Choice Physical Therapy. According to the American Stroke Association, the acronym to remember is F.A.S.T.—Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, and Time to call 911. Likins recommends doing the smile and whistle test if you're questioning whether your symptoms are serious—if either action is difficult, call 911 immediately.
2. Neck or Back Pain
Because these are such common ailments, many people tend to suffer through them without seeking treatment. Physical therapist Vivian Eisenstadt says that's a mistake.
"Pain is information, and if you ignore that information, it can get louder," she warns. "If you ignore neck pain that persists for longer than a week, you could be causing much more harmful damage. A slight impingement can turn into long-term nerve damage if not addressed."
As a general rule, Eisenstadt suggests her patients come in for an appointment anytime they have pain for longer than a week. "If it goes untreated, you are not only treating the original issue, but you will also have to undo all the ways the body compensated for the [initial] pain."
3. Dry Mouth with Increased Urination
When you notice this pair of symptoms, especially at night, it could indicate that the body is struggling with high blood sugar levels.
"The urge to urinate may be coming from the kidneys' effort to rid the body of excess sugar, not from simple thirst," says certified diabetes educator Nancy Rodrigues. "This leads to dry mouth. What most of my patients believe is dry mouth is initiating the increased intake of water or other liquids, sometimes as much as a gallon a day."
Diabetes lifestyle expert and registered dietitian Toby Smithson points out that fatigue and hunger may also accompany the dry mouth and increased urination. "Sometimes people shrug off these symptoms, thinking they are related to the aging process," she explains. "With Type 2 diabetes, symptoms often go undiagnosed for 10 years—even to the point that a complication of diabetes can become a symptom, like nerve pain (neuropathy) and persistent infection, which also may be ignored."
Early treatment is critical for people developing Type 1 diabetes, Smithson notes, as excessively high blood sugar levels can lead to a life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). For people with Type 2 diabetes, earlier treatment and lifestyle changes will slow the progression of complications and allow for daily management of this chronic condition.
4. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
It's normal to experience some degree of delayed onset muscle soreness 24 to 48 hours after a workout, but if it lasts longer than two days, there could be an underlying issue.
"Your body will naturally heal itself, but if there are underlying structural issues, your body will not have the full capability to do that within the typical time frame," says sports chiropractor Dr. Matt Tanneberg. "Getting any issues taken care of sooner will help the condition heal faster. The longer you wait, the harder the issue is to fix."
5. Snoring
While snoring is often dismissed as annoying or maybe even funny, it can also be a warning sign of a dangerous condition called sleep apnea.
"More and more people are being diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea," says certified sleep science coach Bill Fish. "Essentially, the body stops breathing up to hundreds of times per night and then reflexively gasps for air, putting a tremendous amount of strain on the heart on a nightly basis. Studies have shown that individuals with severe sleep apnea are more likely to experience sudden cardiac arrest."
If you regularly snore, Fish recommends making an appointment with a medical professional or sleep doctor, who can determine whether you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea and recommend various forms of treatment.
6. Nerve Pain
Nerve impingement (also known as a pinched nerve)—which can come from the spine (bone or discs) or from muscle—will produce a variety of symptoms, which may include shooting pain, numbness, tingling or burning.

It’s tricky to differentiate typical muscle soreness from nerve-related muscle pain, Dr. Tanneberg notes. "Indicators would be more intense soreness than what is typical for you, or the soreness lasting longer than 48 hours after exercise. If you have pain that moves to different areas, or 'radiates,' that is most likely a nerve issue."

The doctor warns that if a nerve is impinged for long periods of time, it will physically die off. To prevent this, you should get checked out by a professional, such as a chiropractor or physical therapist, in order to figure out what and where the problem is and take a course of action to fix it.
7. Urinary Changes
If you're experiencing more frequent urination, pain or burning with urination, blood or odor in the urine, your symptoms could indicate a more serious problem, such as a urinary infection, overactive bladder or enlarged prostate, says Dr. Arash Akhavein, a urologist at Comprehensive Urology in Los Angeles. Waking up more than twice a night to use the restroom, finding it difficult to hold urine or experiencing leakage are also worrisome symptoms you should monitor in case of the aforementioned issues.
"If you have any symptoms that make you worry or that persist with no simple explanation, it would be best to act as an advocate for your health and seek help from a medical professional to either reassure you or address accordingly with further testing or treatment," says Dr. Akhavein.
8. Unwillingness to Get out of Bed
We all have days when we need more down time, but if you find that you don't feel like getting out of bed or doing anything for a prolonged period of time, it could be a sign of depression.
"Everyone sometimes feels tired or lazy, but if you find that most days you don't feel like getting out of bed or actually can't make yourself do it, don't ignore the problem," says Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C, mental health counselor and director of the Baltimore Therapy Center. "Depression is an illness as real as any physical symptoms, and it can be just as painful, if not more."
If you experience prolonged or extreme feelings of fatigue, hopelessness or unwillingness to participate in daily activities, contact a mental health professional. "It may seem like nothing will ever change—that is the voice of depression—but, in fact, depression can be treated effectively with therapy, medication and other options," Bilek assures.
9. Bleeding Gums
Many Americans brush off a bleeding gums as a normal side effect of daily dental care, but Dr. Leslie Renee Townsend, D.D.S. and regional dental director for Jefferson Dental Care, says it can indicate a larger health concern, such as rampant gum disease, diabetes or even heart disease. Without intervention, gum disease can lead to tooth loss, as well as contribute to aggravated health conditions throughout the body.
“Patients shouldn’t ignore bleeding gums, which not only affect oral health but also other systems of the body,” she says. "If you notice a bit of blood when brushing or flossing, especially when paired with swollen, puffy or sore gums, dry mouth, loose teeth, or in conjunction with the development of a chronic illness, it’s time to see a dentist for a diagnosis.”
10. Pain in the Left Arm/Left Side of Body
According to Dr. Garth Graham, expert cardiologist and president of the Aetna Foundation, this is a classic symptom of a potential heart attack that should never be overlooked. "According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 15 percent of people who have a heart attack will die from it," the doctor points out. "Never dismiss a symptom on your own—always seek out a medical professional."
11. Joint Clicking and/or Popping (With Pain)
Most of the time, the "snap, crackle, pop" you might hear when standing or moving is common and not concerning. When it's not painful, clicking and popping in the extremities (shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles) can usually be attributed to normal cartilage wear and tear from aging. But, as Dr. Tanneberg points out, if the clicking or popping is accompanied by pain, that can indicate a more serious structural issue in the joint and warrants a visit to a medical doctor, chiropractor or physical therapist.
12. Frequent or Extreme Fatigue
While it’s normal to be tired after physical exertion, lack of sleep or prolonged stress, Allison Williams, N.D. at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine warns that chronic fatigue can suggest a variety of things—from the early signs of chronic stress or a poorly functioning thyroid gland, to something as significant as the early signs of an autoimmune disease. “If fatigue persists after we adjust our busy work schedules, get in some rest and relaxation, and make sure we're eating all the green food we know we should, it's time to chat with a doctor,” she suggests.
Keep in mind that you know your body than anyone, and it’s important to listen when it’s telling you something is different or might be wrong. SparkPeople is not a medical resource, so you should always consult with a physician or trusted healthcare professional if you experience these or any other worrisome symptoms. In many scenarios, these symptoms could have less serious causes, of course, but if something is persistent it’s worth checking out for peace of mind.

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Great advice. Report
Thanks. Report
Great information. Thank you. Report
this is good Report
OK, I'm making an appointment. Report
Or also from number one...it may be Bell’s palsy too. Great info overall. Hooah Report
Serious stuff.... thanks for helping us keep on tip of our health and being proactive Report
Great article. Information everyone should know. Report
I've experienced many of these- left arm pain in the past (2 yrs ago), extreme fatigue (on meds for hypothyroidism due to Hashimoto Thyroiditis autoimmune disorder), nerve pain, popping and cracking and clicking of my joints (sometimes feels good, sometimes is hurts- Osteo-arthritis), nerve pain (Neuropathy and Fibromyalgia), unpredictable periods when I'll have increased thirst and urination (family history of autoimmune pancreatitis- I've been dealing with chronic pancreatitis for 14 yrs, and I just fired my primary care Dr because instead of running the test to confirm I have autoimmune pancreatitis he ran tests to see if I am diabetic...He ran the wrong tests, refused to order the correct tests and persisted in being condescending, patronizing and dissmissive even when told that there is a family history of this autoimmune disorder. So now I am finding a new primary care Dr who will treat me right and run the correct tests, which is not going to be easy. Report
Thank you for these facts that everyone needs to know! Report
Wow thanks for the great info Report
Great article. Good information. Report
Great and important information. Thanks. Report
Great symptom check! Report
good article Report
Thank you very much for this very important info! Report
The doctors seem to listen to their patients now so it's very important to be mindful of your symptoms and what and how things are affecting you. Doctors can only do what they know to do. Let's help them keep us well. Report
Excellent article loaded Report
Thank you for this very important info! These are facts that ALL of us need to know. Report
Thanks Report
It's easier to see these signs in someone else than in yourself. Report
Excellent article. I knew of some of these, but not all of them. Everyone should know these things. Report
Excellent article. Good need-to-know information! Report
Thanks for putting the signals together. Report
I self diagnose everything (including a burst blood vessel and sprained ankle" except for my moles and my yearly female check up. My mom had skin cancer at the age of 26 so I go in at least once a year so they can make sure everyone is good. It also helps to take pictures of anything you suspect so you can see if it changes over the course of a year. Report
I too research symptoms on the net before going to the Doctor. It helps you communicate with the Doctor more efficiently. It pays to be your own advocate. I typical Doctor may see hundreds or possibly more patients in a week. They don’t have a lot of time for one-on-one with individual people. You must be educated about your own health. Report
I must admit that if i'm having symptoms, I'll check out the internet before I go see the doc. Report
Thanks for the link, that was a very informative article! Report
The was a great article. If anything , it points out the importance of knowing your body and knowing when something is not right.
The internet is a great tool but a visit with a good physician can either confirm your suspicions or put your mind at ease. Knowledge is power and knowing the questions to ask....certainly will give you more information. Being an informed consumer of healthcare, opens dialogue and allows you to be a part of the diagnosis or cure. Gives them a bit of control where sometimes there is none. Report
I often use the internet for myself and my family - before the internet I used a Family Medical Guide. I do have insurance but it used for real medical issues not ones that can be treated with homepathy or natural measures. Most doctors will admit that they too have too have to take an educated guess. Recently I had chest pains - I beleived them to be a combination of stress and heartburn but because it was a pain I have never had before I did call my doctor. After 2 days in the hospital and tests and a nuclear test that I did not want we came to the conclusion that my diagnosis was right. It is always best to weigh on the side of caution when you are unsure.... However you do know your body better than anyone it has been with you all of your life, so checking out symptoms on the internet is not an evil thing. It can save your life. I personally find that too many doctors today will give a prescription for just about anything - even that ingrown toenail someone wrote about. So I do my best to avoid that. :-)
I am happy to say that with my doctor's approval I weaned myself off of all meds and went the natural route through nutrition, supplements, and moderate exercise. Now I only see him for my regular checkups once every two years, which I need to do for my business.
The internet can be very helpful with questions to present to your doctor as well, as putting your symptoms into words. Report
I love to try to self diagnois but am a realist in that my doctor still knows best. It does help to go in better informed though. Report
Interesting article. Something I learned a while back while battling endometriosis and fibroids. I craved ice 24/7! I would wake up in the middle of the night to crunch on ice, I couldn't get enough! I knew something was wrong because I'm not an ice eater. The doctor did lab work and found I was anemic. He said a symptom of anemia is constant ice eating. So, if you find yourself eating an excessive amount of ice it might be a good idea to have some blood work done. Just thought I'd share that! Report
Yes, I have to admit sometimes I've been known to use the internet to try and diagnose myself Report
Since I can comprehend what I read, I just as soon do research on my own, THEN go see a doctor. Everytime I've done this, the doc agreed with my diagnosis. :o) They're still learning and I know more about my body than a doctor does, right? Report
if I think it's something important or it's something that scares me, I go to the doctor. it's usually nothing and I'm usually paranoid though so sometimes I look up my symptoms online but it's not often. Report
The internet medical sites are very good for educating yourself and checking to see if your symptoms need further care. When I was in Nursing school they taught us NOT to be sure we had a disease or illness just because we had some of the symptoms of whatever we were studying. That happens a lot in medical professional students. Report
Nope! Report
I search for possible outcomes online before going to the doctor. I want to know if it is a serious medical issue or if I am blowing it up. Report
I find physiology facinating and the internet is just one of many sources I use for information. The more I understand how my body works (or doesn't as the case may be) the more I am able to make appropriate decisions and communicate effectively with medical personnel. It is a win/win situation. Report
I use the internet as a source to keep both myself & my doctor up-to-date on ways to alleviate my mobility challenges. It's a learning process for each of us! Report
I don't use the internet to diagnose but I do use it to educate myself about different conditions and medications. I think it's important to learn as much as possible about what's going on with my body. I have learned that when I go to the doctor I have to be my own advocate. Report
I have no health insurance and a low paying job. Last summer while I had some insurance, I went to the doctor and had some testing done. The biggest issue was that my thyroid levels are high and I had a build up in my uterine lining. They needed to do further testing to figure out which was causing the other and was the uterine buildup harmless...needless to say I ran out of insurance before gaining answers. Report
I have awesome insurance, so I don't hesitate going to the doctor. Report
When in January my son told me he had a swollen Testicle, I got on the internet and began researching what it could be. The worst was Testicular Cancer, which after seeing a GP, we who said it wasn't the "other things", the Urologist read the Ultrasound and the next day he had surgery. The Internet gave us a LOT of information, so when we did hear "CANCER" we knew what the doctor was talking about, with cells, etc. It was an emotional moment, and if we hadn't already read, we wouldn't have understood him. After we came home, we looked up the rest and it has been so helpful in the Chemotherapy to understand what is happening. I go into the doctor with a list of questions, and I write down what he says. Report
I am not a hypochondriac and am not quick to run to the doctor. Yes, I will look up my symptoms on the internet before running to the doctor. I don't have insurance and money is too precious to spend on needless doctor visits. For example, if I have an ingrown toenail, I will check out on line what I can do at home before a doctor visit. However, if a symptom persists, is severe, or seems serious, I do not hesitate to visit the doctor. Report
I used to use the Internet to check out symptoms, but I found that it did nothing but make me worry---I'm an undiagnosed hypochondriac. ;) I once read an article about a condition on the internet and called my doctor's office panicking because I had a 0.00003 percent chance of developing the problem. I'm fairly certain my doctor thought I was bonkers. ;)

I also don't watch "medical" shows--real or fictional, and I stay away from most women-oriented magazines because they tend to feature a "disease of the week/month," which I'm convinced I have after I watch the show or read the article.

I started taking an antidepressant about two years ago, and I have found that I worry significantly less about every little bump, bruise, spot, whatever since then. I also don't have the desire to google every symptom, illness, etc. I still, however, practice some avoidance techniques (not watching "Grey's Anatomy" or reading "Women's Day") because there's no need to stress myself out. Report
Yes, I do. Actually, most of the time I get reassured from what I read. Report
My Dr. doesn't disagree with me using the web, he says it can be a good source to help me explain the diagnosis. I don't use it to diagnose myself, that is what I pay him for but it makes it so when he tells me xx is wrong with you, I can look it up so I know what I am dealing with. I used it a lot when dealing with my Mom's Dr.'s because her specialist was very hard to understand. I always had him write it down and I would look it up when we got home. Report
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