5 Health Symptoms You Should Never Ignore

Checking in with your doctor can sometimes feel like a chore, but there are certain types of aches and pains that you should always run by your primary care physician. That’s because what may sometimes seem like a little discomfort may actually be your body’s way of warning you of a more serious condition. Not every symptom is alarming, but here are some that shouldn’t be shrugged off:

  1. Intense headache: You may be compelled to pop a few pain killers and sleep it off, but if the throbbing in your head comes on suddenly and is extremely sharp (what you would describe as the worse headache of your life), it could be the sign of something much more serious. Only a doctor can tell you for sure, but it may be the result of an aneurysm, (a ruptured blood vessel in your brain that requires immediate emergency attention), cardiac cephalgia, temporal arteritis or even shingles.
  1. Tender calf: A pain point in the back of your leg—which can sometimes be red, warm to the touch or swollen—could indicate deep vein thrombosis. People who are overweight, pregnant or immobile (say from bed rest, long-haul flights or even a long day at the office) are especially susceptible to this type of blood clot, which can become fatal if it travels to your lungs.
  1. Constant fatigue: If you find that you’re feeling exhausted instead of energized morning after morning, you may be suffering from sleep apnea. This condition causes air passage to be blocked by your throat muscles, which can spike your blood pressure and increase your risk of diabetes or stroke. Low energy could also be a sign of an underactive thyroid, which can put you at risk for heart disease.
  1. Bleeding gums: If you notice even a little bit of blood after you brush your teeth or floss, this could be an indication of gum disease, caused by plaque build-up. Not only can this condition cause pain and tooth loss, it can also lead to coronary artery disease, an increased risk of respiratory infections or even fertility issues.
  1. Tingling feet: Everyone has had their foot fall asleep, but if the tingling pins-and-needle feeling doesn’t seem to go away, this can sometimes be a sign of type 2 diabetes. This burning or numbness—known as diabetic neuropathy—commonly starts at the feet, but is a type of nerve damage that could also affect the hands. Diabetes can be easy to miss (about 8 million Americans don’t even know that they have it), so be sure to heed your body’s warnings, especially if you’re also experiencing blurred vision, increased thirst and unexplained weight loss.



Photo credit: William Brawley

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