Although we often complain to friends and relatives that ‘I have a splitting headache’, ‘I keep eating but I’m still losing weight’ or ‘I am so tired I can’t lift a muscle’ … we still tend to ignore the signals of our bodies and postpone going to the doctor. All ‘symptoms’ that seem insignificant to us can actually be signs of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other very serious illnesses. Therefore it is important for us to be aware of the signals coming from our bodies, to pay attention to them and to seek medical advice as soon as possible, because early detection and treatment is extremely important. Aile Bahçelievler Hospital Internal Diseases Specialist Dr. Ahmet Uslu, has listed the 10 vitally important signals of our bodies and what these could be symptoms of.
NEVER NEGLECT THESE SYMPTOMS
1. More than 3 kilos a month of unintentional weight loss or losing more than 10 percent of your body weight in the past 6 months: Rapid weight loss can sometimes be the symptom of metabolic diseases like hyperthyroid (excessive goiter hormone) and type 1 diabetes as well as some types of cancer. If symptoms like excessive water consumption and frequent urinating accompany the weight loss, they could be signaling type 1 diabetes while palpitations, edginess and excessive perspiration could be signaling hyperthyroid. Unexplained high temperatures, coughing, bloody phlegm, diarrhea and loss of appetite along with the weight loss brings cancer diseases to mind and is a good reason to see a doctor as soon as possible.
2. Chest pains and breathlessness that occur during rest or with very little exertion: Having chest pains or difficulty breathing while expending effort like walking at a normal pace or even while resting is a sign of serious lung or heart disease.
The feeling of pressure on the chest accompanying the pain, or the pain spreading to the neck or arm in a typical angina (chest pain) manner could be cause to consider an angiography. If the pains are not typical the doctor may deem it suitable to administer an effort test, an echocardiography, a virtual angiography or other noninvasive testing. Going to a doctor immediately could prevent a possible heart attack or sudden death.
3. Changes on the skin: Bile duct and liver diseases can be apparent with such symptoms as yellowing of the skin and eyes, dark colored urine and whiteness in stool. Bruising on the skin and subcutaneous bleeding can be signs of blood diseases as well as rheumatic diseases associated with veins.
4. Swelling in any part of the body: When a swollen part of the body that was there before stays the same without changing for years it may not be anything important. However newly developed swollen areas should be paid attention to. It may not happen every time but when swelling is accompanied by pain it may be signaling an infection, bleeding inside the mass or a stimulation of nerves, but swelling without pain might be a symptom of cancer.
5. Loss of strength or feeling in extremities: Sudden loss of feeling and strength can be a sign of cerebrovascular embolisms while such symptoms developing over a long period of time can mean nerve damage due to diabetes, toxins or similar causes and if accompanied by lower back or back pain could be a symptom of a hernia. If such symptoms are the cause of a hernia and are accompanied by frequent urination and weakness in the feet an urgent operation may be needed.
6. Unusual headaches: If the intensity of the headache, the area it has settled in or the duration has changed or is accompanied by other symptoms it should be paid attention to. While a headache that spreads from the nape of the neck to the front is usually an indication of blood pressure changes, any pressure on the face, a feeling of fullness in the nose and surrounding area could be indicating sinusitus. When the pain is recurring, often accompanied by senses called visual or smell auras and generally concerning a hemisphere of the brain it may be related to a migraine. Nausea, vomiting, balancing problems and changes in consciousness may indicate hemorrhaging in the brain or a cranial mass.
7. Exhaustion that is not alleviated by resting: This symptom should not be ignored as it could be related to chronic lung, heart and kidney diseases, anemia and deficiencies in hormones or other elements in the body. In fact situations of weakness caused by anemia could also be the symptom of an anemia causing cancer and if a doctor is not seen urgently the treatment could be too late.
8. Dizziness and fainting: Dizziness or fainting as symptoms on their own and accompanied by palpitations, perspiration, incontinence and changes in consciousness should never be ignored. While this state could be related to emotional stress and benign ailments like a drop in blood pressure it could also be attributable to constriction and clogging of the arteries that go to the brain or come out of the heart, serious heart valve diseases or direct problems in the brain. These symptoms should most definitely be handled from a neurological or cardiologic problem aspect by specialists in these fields.
9. Blood in the stool, urine and phlegm: Blood observed in bodily fluids can be related to a number of different disorders. Blood in the phlegm could be signaling lung diseases like tuberculosis, pneumonia and lung cancer. Painless blood in the urine could be a symptom of bladder cancer while bloody urine with pain and burning could be signaling a kidney stone, a kidney infection or sand. While fresh blood in stool can signal benign diseases like hemorrhoids, it can also signal colon cancer if accompanied by a change in bowel movement habits, weight loss and abdominal pain.
10. Changes in Bowel Movements: Being constipated for more than 3 days or not urinating in over 24 hours are symptoms that must never be ignored. Inability to pass gas, temperature and severe abdominal pain in addition to constipation that has lasted over 3 days can be symptoms of intestinal blockage that needs to be operated on urgently as well as the signal of an insidious cancer that has been silently growing for a number of years. Similarly the inability to urinate could be signaling kidney deficiencies if without pain and urinary tract infections if there is pain involved and prostate enlargement in men.