There are a million and one reasons why you might put your health on the back burner. Maybe you're incredibly busy, mildly afraid of doctors, or you simply can't be bothered. Whatever the case may be, it can be all too easy to ignore weird health symptoms. And, you know, never go to the doctor.
This is especially true for symptoms that seem easy to brush off — a pain in your stomach, a feeling of tiredness, a foggy head. These strange little symptoms are probably related to your busy schedule, or the fact you forget to get a second cup of coffee. So who cares, right?
Well, you definitely shouldn't rush off to the doctor for every little twinge. But it's definitely worth getting a once over if you've been feeling a little "off." As board-certified dermatologist Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse says, "Some patients might think that their concerns are ... minor or not real medical issues." But, even the most minor things — like that feeling of fatigue — can be cause for concern. "Don’t minimize your symptoms," Shainhouse says. "Let the doctor decide!" Below are some signs it may be time to head on off to the doctor. Because even if you're super busy, or it feels like "nothing," it's always important to put your health first.
1. Moles Or Freckles That Seem To Be Changing Shape
While a smattering of freckles is usually nothing to worry about, it is necessary to monitor your freckles and moles for signs of change. "If you think that you have a new mole or that one of your old ones is changing shape, color or size, trust your gut and show your doctor ASAP," says Shainhouse. "It could be a sign of melanoma, a potentially lethal form of skin cancer that is treatable when caught early."
2. A Sense Of Exhaustion That Never Seems To Go Away
Feeling tired after you pull an all-nighter is one thing. But a general sense of fatigue — especially if it never seems to go away — is definitely not something you should ignore. "If you are just not feeling yourself, it could be related to a hormonal imbalance (low thyroid or pre-menopause), nutritional deficiency (anemia), or to depression," says Shainhouse. "Ask your doctor to help you figure out what might be causing the symptoms, because it is treatable."
3. Irregular Or Absent Periods
A weird cycle may not feel like a big deal. (I mean, we all have strange periods, right?) But, however many friends say it's "normal," an absent or irregular period should be cause for concern. As board-certified fertility expert Dr. Jane Frederick tells me, it could be a symptom of an underlying health problem such as a thyroid disorder, a tumor, or polycystic ovary syndrome. All of which are definitely worth getting checked out.
4. Annoying Brain Fog Or Memory Problems
Brain fog is definitely annoying enough to notice, but it is so easy to ignore or pass of as "stress-related." However, if your fogginess is accompanied with aches and fatigue, it could mean you have an issue such as fibromyalgia, Jacob Teitelbaum, MD tells me. Treating it can mean getting your life back in a big way, so don't wait to speak up.
5. Any Lumps Or Bumps In Your Boobs
It's completely normal to have some lumps in your breasts. They are, after all, made up of all sorts of tissues and milk ducts. The occasionally cyst-like lump is usually nothing to worry about, especially if it crops up around your period. If you feel something out of the usual, however, or notice a lump that is hard to the touch, make an appointment with your doctor ASAP. And always remember to get your yearly breast exam.
6. Abdominal Bloating Or A Feeling Of Fullness
If you just downed a pizza, or drank a ton of soda, then you can reasonably expect some bloating. But if you feel that way on a daily basis — even when you haven't eaten anything particularly greasy or carbonated — it could be an early sign of ovarian cancer. "With ovarian cancer, a large mass in the ovaries causes a fluid build-up in the abdomen, which results in a bloated feeling," Dr. Faisal Tawwab tells Bustle. If this sounds familiar, it's best to get checked out right away.
7. A White Coating On Your Tongue
Ever brush your teeth and notice your tongue is looking particularly... white? If the answer is yes, and you've been experiencing hella sugar cravings, brain fog, bloating, or rashes, it may be a sign of a Candida overgrowth, health coach Elicia Miller tells me. Candida is a fungus which is necessary in the body in small doses, but if it's out of control you might notice the above symptoms — as well as more UTIs and yeast infections. Yikes.
8. Eating Comfort Foods When You Feel Upset
While there's nothing wrong with eating comfort foods, it can be a sign of a problem if you crave them on the regular. As author and health expert Katrina Love Senn says, "Emotional eating is an important sign/symptom that comes directly from within that something in your body (or life) is out of balance and needs to be urgently addressed." This could be underlying depression, anxiety, or way to much stress. Whatever it is, don't let it go on ignored.
9. Pelvic Pain That Never Goes Away
Any pain that doesn't go away should be cause for concern, including nagging pelvic pain. As Frederick says, "Women experiencing this pain or discomfort should not ignore [it] as it may be a red flag for an underlying health condition like endometriosis, cysts, or even infection." Since these problems can get worse with time, it's best to treat them right away.
10. Hair That Seems To Be Thinning
While it's normal to lose up to 100 hairs a day, truly thinning hair can be downright horrifying — especially since it often points to underlying medical condition. "It can be a sign of a thyroid problem or autoimmune condition, but most commonly is related to certain key vitamin deficiencies," says Arielle Levitan, MD, in an email to Bustle. While it's easy to brush it off as a few lost hairs, the sooner you treat hair loss the better.
11. Itchiness Or Acne Flare Ups
Itchiness can be pretty easy to ignore because it's just itchiness, right? Well, ongoing skin issues, as well as acne flare ups, can mean somethin' else is going on. As certified nutritionist Samantha Attard, Ph.D. tells me, it could be a sign of allergies that are wreaking havoc on your digest system, as well as your energy levels and overall health. If you feel off, and extra itchy, do talk to your doctor.
Because really, you shouldn't ignore your health or put your own well-being on the back burner. If you don't feel well, or notice some of these weird symptoms, do yourself a favor and get things checked out. You'll be so glad you did.
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