You know your body well, and likely can tell when things are a bit different. Whether you're feeling slightly off, or notice some changes in your appearance, your skin, or your weight, it's always a good idea to pay attention to the signs from your body and listen for subtle hints that something might be wrong with your health.
While you certainly don't want to go down the road of hypochondria — and worry about every little ache and pain — you also don't want to let your health issues go unchecked. "It is so important not to ignore these little signs that our body is physically doing because it is our body’s way of talking to us," Dr. David Greuner, of NYC Surgical Associates, tells Bustle. "If you put off not looking into these little changes you may be letting something get more out of hand, especially if the change is persistent or combined with other symptoms."
So go ahead and see your doctor, express all your concerns, and get on board with some blood tests and scans. "There is no harm in being extra cautious," Greuner says. "There could be harm by letting things go and not getting help." It's always better to be safe, than to ignore the signs below, as they could be a sign of a problem.
1. You've Lost Some Weight
If you haven't been eating differently or exercising in order to lose weight, then definitely take note of any fluctuations. "If you are not changing your diet or exercise your weight should not be changing more than 10 pounds, especially losing 10 or more pounds," says Greuner. "Losing significant weight with no lifestyle changes is most often associated with various different cancers and something that should not be ignored."
2. Your Bathroom Habits Have Changed
If you used to have a pretty predictable bathroom schedule, pay attention if it suddenly changes. "If your bowel movements are not consistent or [you're] having trouble with constipation/diarrhea, you may be sick," Greuner says. "Also, if you constantly are running to the bathroom and having bladder issues, head to your doctor. Discomfort with your bladder and bowel movements are usually strong signs that something else is going on if they last longer then a week."
3. You're Peeing More Often Than Usual
Your peeing habits that can also point to other issues, like diabetes. "Since type 2 diabetes is a disease of chronically elevated blood sugar, the kidneys have to work overtime to get that excess blood sugar out of your system, causing you to urinate more frequently," Catherine Metzgar, PhD, RD, of Virta Health, tells Bustle.
4. Your Cough Won't Go Away
While it may not feel like a big deal, a lingering cough can be a sign of a problem. "A consistent cough is not normal and is usually a sign of asthma, sinus problems, or could even be a sign of lung cancer," Greuner says. "I have so many people that come to my office with a nagging cough that they never got help for and it ends up almost always being a signs for a bigger issue."
5. You've Started Snoring
If your partner is complaining about your new snoring habit, it may be time to see a doctor. As Greuner says, "A common symptom that some people may not even realize is a change is snoring. If you have never snored and now have started, it may be a sign of something else that you will want your doctor to check out." Like sleep apnea, or other health/sleep disorders.
6. Your Hair Is Thinning
Hair loss is one of those things that can be chalked up to genetics. But it should also turn you on to the possibility of a health issue. According to Tammy Worth on WebMD.com, female hair loss can occur if you have a thyroid disorder, anemia, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or even psoriasis. Hair can also start to fall out if you're vitamin deficient, or if you're dealing with too much stress. And none of that is anything you should ignore.
7. Your Leg Hurts
If you just got off an overnight flight, don't ignore any leg pain you're experiencing as it could be a sign of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). "DVTs are more likely to happen after sitting or being immobile for an extended period of time, such as being on a long plane ride or car trip," says Kristine Arthur, MD, an internist at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center. "Other factors that increase the risk of blood clots include smoking, taking birth control pills and/or hormones, pregnancy, or recent surgery." If you have DVT, you'll likely notice calf pain in one leg, redness, swelling, or your leg will feel warm to the touch.
8. There's Discomfort In Your Chest
Heart attacks can cause incredible chest pain. But, more often than not, people report discomfort and heaviness in their chest instead. "Very frequently there are other symptoms ... which could include a cold sweat, nausea, indigestion, heartburn, belching, 'feeling poorly,' and/or shortness of breath," says Richard Wright, MD, a cardiologist at Providence Saint John's Health Center. If that's the case, go to the emergency room right away.
9. You Have Cramps And Abdominal Pain
If you experience any type of abdominal pain or bowel changes, like diarrhea, it's usually a good idea to alert your doctor. "This symptom could be mistaken for stress-related symptoms, IBS, or lactose intolerance," gastroenterologist Ashkan Farhadi, MD, of Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center, tells Bustle. But it could also be a sign of Crohn's Disease, especially if you're also experiencing intermittent cramps, abdominal pain, chronic joint pain, and chronic fatigue.
10. You Boobs Look Slightly Different
You already know it's important to check your breasts every month for changes. But do you know what to look for, exactly? "When most people think of early signs and symptoms of breast cancer, breast lumps and nipple discharge often come to mind," breast cancer surgeon Dennis Holmes, MD, of the Margie Petersen Breast Center, tells Bustle. "However, there are several subtle signs and symptoms of breast cancer that should be considered: a thickened area of the breast, skin or nipple retraction, skin redness and swelling, or breast pain."
11. You Have Circles Under Your Eyes
Dark circles and sunken eyes can be genetic, or a sign that you need to get more sleep. But they can also point to a bigger issue, such as dehydration. If your eyes seem to appear more hallow than usual, tune into your bod for other signs of dehydration. According to Healthline.com, you might experience low urine output, dry mouth, and lethargy. And even chapped lips.
12. Your Energy Crashes After Eating
Another sign of a possible problem? Energy crashes throughout the day, or especially after eating a meal. "This can be a symptom of poor glucose control, eventually leading to diabetes," board-certified rehabilitation specialist Dr. Scott Schreiber tells Bustle. So try not to accept it as normal, and definitely see a doctor.
13. You've Been Feeling Gassy
If you've been struggling with extra gas, it could be from that soda you just drank. Or, it might be a sign of a candida (or yeast) overgrowth in your body. "Most women are familiar with ... vaginal yeast infections," says board-certified internist and author Jacob Teitelbaum, MD. "What they don’t know, however, is that yeast overgrowth is also commonly seen in the sinuses and intestines, which can have severe consequences if ignored." If that's the case, you might also experience weird symptoms like itchiness in your ears, sores in your mouth, aches, and even fatigue.
Just because these changes aren't extreme, doesn't mean they should be ignored. If your body is telling you something — no matter how subtle — make sure you listen.
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