10 Common Conditions With Silent Symptoms

Usually we listen to cues from our body to see if something is wrong — otherwise, we would spend a lot of time agonizing over whether or not we are in good health. However, there are a number of common serious conditions that have silent symptoms, making it hard to know if we have this issues unless we actively seek to get tested for them. Although this doesn't mean we should live in paranoia of getting these conditions, it does help to be aware of them so we can take the proper steps to ensure we catch them early on using the correct preventative measures.

Since you can't feel many silent illnesses from physical symptoms, it's important that you make a a special effort to keep up on your routine physicals, routine blood work, or other proper preventive screening, including colonoscopies, pap smear, mammograms, or skin exams. Sometimes, these doctor visits are the only ways to know something is wrong, and if you keep up on your appointments and catch them early, it can help save your life.

To make sure you're aware of your health, it's best to know what could be happening under the surface without you knowing. Here are 10 frighteningly common conditions to watch out for that often have silent symptoms.

1. Brain Tumors

Not all brain tumors result in memory changes, headaches, or vision loss, although they certainly can. "These patients [with silent symptoms] are usually those that undergo a scan for another reason such as unrelated trauma and get a CT or MRI that shows a mass in the brain," says neuro-oncologist Santosh Kesari, MD, PhD over email.

2. Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Damage to your hearing can be hard to spot until it has become severe, and suddenly, you're older and sounds sound muffled. Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by a one-time exposure to an intense sound, such as an explosion, or by continuous exposure to loud sounds over an extended period of time, such as concerts, according to the National Institutes of Health. Exposure to sounds can build up overtime, so it's important to keep sound volume low or wear earbuds to places like concerts.

3. Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States, according to Health. To make matters worse, colon cancers usually don't cause any symptoms, and most people who develop colon cancer have no history of the disease in their family. This makes it especially importance to schedule colon cancer screenings, although the recommendation is to start at age 50. If you have colon cancer in your family or have other risk factors, such as colon polyps and inflammatory bowel disease, you should look into getting tested earlier.

4. High Blood Pressure

Nearly 20 percent of people with high blood pressure don’t even know they have it, according to the American Heart Association. "Unless you have headaches from the increased pressure in your head, you can’t feel it, but it can kill you with a stroke or heart attack," says Rachel Carlton Abrams, MD over email. The best way to stay vigilant is to measure your blood pressure and learn your risk factors, including family history, your diet, your age, and more.

5. High Cholesterol

"This can’t be sensed, but even in a healthy person, cholesterol can be high from either genetics or poor lifestyle choices," says Abrams. A healthy diet and exercise can help manage high cholesterol, but all adults over 20 years of age be screened every 5 years or more frequently if they have risk factors such as family history of high cholesterol, diabetes, a history of smoking, and more, according to Health Central.

6. Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a another one of those "silent killers" with little-to-no symptoms. "Early diabetes with high blood sugar comes without symptoms most of the time, but is a strong cause of heart attacks, strokes, blindness and dementia," says Abrams. The best way to find out is to get a blood sugar test, according to Health.

7. Cardiovascular Disease

We've all heard those stories of those sudden heart attacks that came out of no where, and that's because many people, especially women, don't realize they have heart disease until it's too late. A common sequence of testing is to obtain an electrocardiogram (EKG), exercise stress test, and cholesterol (lipid) panel, but even these can come up clear, according to Life Extension. Including a CT heart scan, lipoprotein testing, and ankle-brachial index assessment can help ensure the most accurate results.

8. Osteoporosis

There are typically no symptoms in the early stages of bone loss, according to the Mayo Clinic. Older women of white or Asian descent are at higher risk of osteoporosis, especially if you have a family history. The most common osteoporosis test is dual X-ray absorptiometry, which measures people’s spine, hip, or total body bone density to help gauge fracture risk, according to WebMD. Testing is usually recommended for women over 65 or in younger women with a higher-than-normal chance of fracture for their age.

9. Skin Cancer

Signs of skin cancer don't always involve abnormal moles or obvious red patches. One type of non-melanoma skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, often barely presents itself in the beginning, sometimes just appearing like a pimple, Dr. Amy Stein said to Health and Healing Online. Basal cell carcinomas have a high cure rate when caught early, so don't forget to schedule your yearly skin check.

10. Ovarian Cancer

The earliest symptoms of ovarian cancer are vague and easy to dismiss, according to Healthline. They can seem like just everyday occurrences, such as a stomach ache, fatigue, or increased need to urinate. There's not a simple way to test for ovarian cancer, but a pelvic exam can help your doctor discover irregularities, so it's important to regularly see a gynecologist.

Just because you don't have symptoms doesn't mean you necessarily have one of these diseases, but awareness is the first step in preventative care for your health.

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