Overlooking symptoms is nothing new. Have a headache or joint pain? No problem, take a painkiller, and you’re all set. However, as easy as it may be to take a simple painkiller to alleviate your aches, you might want to take a deeper look into what’s causing you pain. Often, symptoms are key indicators of a serious condition that if left untreated can later lead to severe complications.
But how do you distinguish between regular pain and pain as a symptom of an underlying condition? Well, that may be complicated to figure out on your own, as you might need tests and examinations to be administered by your physician. Nonetheless, you should always be aware of your symptoms and keep track of their intensity and frequency to see if they are progressing. Be sure to seek medical attention, and never dismiss your symptoms.
42. Your Neck Looks Dirty
A rash-like discoloration known as acanthosis nigricans can “almost look like dirt but has a velvety feel,” said Todd Sontag, DO, a family medicine specialist with Orlando Health Physician Associates. It is commonly found on the back of the neck or in the armpits. This is considered to be a sign of diabetes or insulin resistance. “Patients will come in asking about this rash they can’t get rid of,” he notes. The doctor will order blood tests to check blood sugar levels and make a proper diagnosis.
41. Your Skin Itches All Over
There are more causes for itchy skin than pregnancy; for instance, liver damage known as cirrhosis. According to the American Liver Foundation, early damage to the organ often shows zero symptoms. However, during the course of cirrhosis people may experience itching or a yellow cast to their skin, called jaundice. Luckily, after the diagnosis, you can stop the disease from causing further damage by eating healthy and exercising.
40. You’re Bleeding After Sex
If you think the bleeding is due to a dry spell, think again. Bleeding after sex is not typical. There are a number of potential causes that range from vaginal dryness to cervical polyps, but cervical cancer can also be found on that list. As frightening as it may seem, it is vital to address the situation with your MD to rule out cervical cancer and find the source of the problem.
39. You Develop a Bullseye Rash
If you happen to find a red rash in the shape of a bullseye on your skin, you should seek immediate medical attention. Physicians will first check for Lyme disease, as a small bite from a tick can bring on symptoms like fatigue, lack of focus, and a sore throat. Although only 70 to 80 percent of people develop a rash, it may also take on various shapes and colors, appear as multiple rashes, or may even have a blue hue. If you spot symptoms like these or any others after spending time outside where Lyme-carrying ticks live, speak with your doctor.
38. You Have a Red, Splotchy Rash on Your FeetRelated: 9 Vitamin Deficiencies That Show up on Your Skin
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is caused by the bacteria Rickettsia rickettsii and is life-threatening. You might notice common symptoms like a fever or a headache that you can mistake for the flu, but most patients develop a red splotchy rash beginning from their ankles and wrists and moving up the body. If you get sick after hiking or camping, call your doctor immediately.
37. You Don’t Feel Right
You might even refer to it as a weird feeling, as vague as that may sound, but the “something isn’t right” feeling you are experiencing can be a symptom of a possible heart attack. Women don’t always get the classic chest pain symptoms of a heart attack. It can manifest as more silent signs such as feeling tired and upper back pain. “With anything out of the ordinary that suddenly pops up without a clear explanation, it doesn’t hurt to have a heart attack in the back of your mind,” said Dr. Sontag.
36. Canker Sores You Can’t Get Rid of
Since celiac disease can have numerous symptoms (as many as 300), a quick diagnosis can be difficult. GI issues like diarrhea, constipation, and bloating are common; so are others like canker sores. You may find them in your cheeks, gums, or lips, and they can be very painful. While canker sores aren’t exactly a major indication of celiac disease, there are other symptoms to watch out for, like mood problems, joint pain, and infertility.
35. You Can’t Hear Well Out of One EarRelated: 6 Things Your Earwax is Trying to Tell You
Hearing a ringing noise? Are sounds muffled in one ear? Then you may have an acoustic neuroma, a rare, non-cancerous and often slow-growing tumor, according to the Acoustic Neuroma Association. But don’t be so quick to disregard it as non-threatening. As the tumor grows, it can cause balance issues and can even be life-threatening. If your doctor suspects this, an MRI will confirm the diagnosis.
34. Your Eyebrows Are Thinning
Hair loss, including from your eyebrows, can be a sign that your body is working slowly due to an underactive thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism, said Dr. Sontag. Keep an eye on other symptoms like feeling cold all the time, fatigue, and constipation. To properly diagnose the condition, your doctor will order a simple blood test to evaluate the function of your thyroid.
33. You Bruise Easily
Are you noticing several bruises on your legs? Don’t just brush it off and blame your clumsy tendencies; although it may be the answer, it can also point to more serious conditions like leukemia. Low blood platelet counts can make you more susceptible to bruising, according to the American Cancer Society. This shouldn’t be your initial concern, but if your doctor believes this is a possibility, they will check your blood cells count before performing more invasive testing, like taking a bone marrow sample.Related: 10 Reasons Why You’re Bruising Easily
32. You Notice Black Streaks on Your Nails
The first place you will spot skin cancer is, well, on your skin, but it can also appear on your nailbed. Known as acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM), this type of skin cancer can look like a dark streak under your nail. If you aren’t too sure what caused the streak (like smashing your finger in the door) and it recently appeared, see a dermatologist for an examination.
31. Your Sense of Smell Is Dull
According to a study published in Neurology, if your nose doesn’t catch various smells, your ears should at the very least perk up to the possibility of increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Three hundred people who had parents with the disease (and were considered to be at higher risk) were asked to take scratch-and-sniff tests (scents that varied from lemon to gasoline). The study found that people who weren’t as sharp odor identifiers also had markers for AD. Worry not, as this alone is not enough to diagnose a patient.
30. Your Child Has Sudden OCD
If your child suffered from strep throat and has suddenly developed an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), the cause may be a group A Streptococcus infection. This condition is referred to as PANDAS, or pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections. Along with OCD, the child may also experience anxiety, aggression, or ADHD-like symptoms.
29. You’re Sweating Through Your ClothesRelated: 15 Signs You Need to Change Your Diet
If you experience excessive sweating on your hands, underarms or face, it is due to a condition called hyperhidrosis. The sweat is harmless, but it can also be a sign of an underlying medical condition that is responsible for the extreme wetness. Among other causes, such as side effects of medications, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma can cause excessive sweating. Along with the sweat, you may also experience fevers, weight loss, or shortness of breath. If your doctor suspects it may be lymphoma, they will order a biopsy of any enlarged lymph nodes to confirm the initial diagnosis.
28. Your Toenails Aren’t Growing
If you can’t recall the last time you cut your toenails, it’s time to make sure there is no condition responsible for that. Slow-growing toenails or leg hair, or foot wounds that don’t heal properly, are all indicators of peripheral artery disease (PAD). These symptoms point to poor blood flow in the lower half of your body due to plaque buildup in the arteries.
27. You’re Really Bloated
Aside from simply eating a little too much food or being a sign that your period is starting any moment now, abnormal and uncomfortable bloating can be a sign of ovarian cancer. You might also find that you have to pee frequently, along with pelvic pain, or experience pain during sex. If your doctor believes ovarian cancer is behind your bloating, they will do a physical exam to identify an enlarged ovary.
26. You Have Spots on Your Skinv
While it is important to watch for changing moles that are irregular in shape, size, or color, a new mole that pops up should raise concern. According to a new study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 70 percent of melanomas arose from a new mole, while only 30 percent sprang from an existing one.
25. You’re Bleeding After Menopause
Light spotting isn’t something to worry about; in fact, it is considered to be normal. However, period-like bleeding should call for concern, and your physician should be informed, as it might indicate uterine cancer. Early diagnosis is key since women who are diagnosed in stage 1 have a five-year survival rate of 88 percent.
24. You Have a Lump Around Your Belly Button
Do you feel a soft bulge around your belly button area? It might an umbilical hernia. You should seek medical attention to determine whether it is a hernia or a lymph node called Sister Mary Joseph nodule, a sign of underlying cancer, said Dr. Sontag. “Sometimes your body is doing what it should, and it’s OK to have lumps. But any time you notice anything unusual that’s changed, it’s always worth getting checked out,” he said.
23. You Have a Lump on Your ShoulderRelated: 6 Warning Signs of Stomach Cancer
Can a lymph node on the top of your left clavicle be a sign of stomach cancer? Unfortunately, yes it can, according to Dr. Sontag. If these strange lumps or bumps known as Virchow’s node appear, call your doctor.
22. Your Breast Skin Is Nubby Like an Orange Peel
Dimpled skin can be a sign of underlying breast cancer, said Dr. Sontag. “The orange peel look comes from welling,” he mentioned, and can be caused by inflammatory breast cancer. A physical exam will be performed first, and your doctor will then examine the breast tissue through a mammogram or ultrasound.
21. You Swallow and Something Feels Stuck
Frequently feel as if food is caught in your throat while eating, or do you find yourself changing the way you eat by avoiding bulky foods? You should pay close attention, as it may be a sign of esophageal cancer. A physical exam and medical history can let your doctor know if cancer is a possibility.
20. You Gained 20 Pounds in One MonthRelated: 20 Foods That Can Turn Off the Stress Hormone That Causes Weight Gain
There are many people who blame their weight gain on their slow thyroid; after all, this butterfly-shaped gland is what controls your metabolism. A slow increase in weight is less likely with a malfunctioning thyroid than a sudden weight gain–like 20 pounds in a month, said Dr. Sontag. The best way to rule out a potential thyroid condition is to get a thyroid blood test.
19. You Wake Up Exhausted
If you tend to wake up tired after a full night’s sleep, odds are you might suffer from restless leg syndrome. You may also experience the strong urge to move your legs that progressively gets worse when you’re sitting down.
18. You Fall Asleep When You Sit Down to Watch TV
What may seem like a common occurrence, especially if it was a boring show, can mean something deeper–sleep apnea. “I diagnose this a few times per week,” said Dr. Sontag. It’s more than disruptive snoring, he said: “Some patients hold their breath when they sleep for two minutes at a time. You’re not getting enough oxygen throughout the night.” Snoring can be more complicated than it seems, as it can cause you to stop breathing. Speak with your doctor to find proper treatment.
17. Your Nipples Are LeakingRelated: 18 Risk Factors for Breast Cancer
No longer breastfeeding? Or not having sex? Then it might be a condition called galactorrhea. It may be an underlying medical issue like a prolactinoma, a benign tumor on your pituitary gland. Although it may not be harmful on its own, the tumor can lead to irregular periods and interfere with fertility.
16. You Pee All the Time
While increased bathroom visits can be due to a urinary tract infection, UTIs aren’t always the root of the problem. However, if you constantly pee and have an unquenchable thirst, you might be developing diabetes, said Dr. Sontag. If you also notice you are frequently waking up in the middle of the night to pee, you should visit your doctor.
15. Your Leg Hurts When You Walk
Of course, your first thought might be if you’re injured yourself while working out or walking, but if the pain cannot be linked to an injury and feels like your bone is hurting, it might be bone cancer.
14. Your Mouth Is BurningRelated: 12 Signs and Symptoms You Need More Vitamin B12
Known as burning mouth syndrome, this may be due to damage to pain and taste nerves. You can experience a painful burn or tingle in your mouth that is frequent and lasts for long periods. While there is no test to help diagnose the condition, your doctor will perform a thorough workup to rule out other potential causes and provide adequate treatment.
13. Your Pee Looks Like Cola
The color of your urine should set off immediate alarms, especially after an extreme workout or taking part in a marathon. It could be rhabdomyolysis, which occurs when muscle tissues break down, enter your bloodstream, and cause kidney damage. This is a serious disease that can result in a trip to the ER.
12. Your Pee Looks Pink
Pink or red pee is a sign of blood in your urine. The reason is likely due to a urinary tract or kidney infection, but can also be present in later stages of kidney, bladder, or prostate cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic.
11. Your Stool Is GreenRelated: 10 Foods That Help You Poop
Green poop can certainly catch your attention, and rightfully so, as “this is often some sort of infection, like giardia or salmonella,” said Dr. Sontag. It is likely your doctor will ask if you’ve been abroad, camped, or hiked recently.
10. Your Stool Is Black
There is no doubt that black stool calls for some concern, but there are a few possibilities: the first, that you’re taking Pepto Bismol, which turns stool black. Second, the color can be an indicator of digested blood, in which case your doctor might consider more serious issues like stomach ulcers or GI cancer.
9. Your Feet Feel Like Bricks
This feeling can be a sign of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a condition that affects women more often than men, and often strikes those between the ages of 20 and 40. Fatigue is also another common symptom. Feeling stiffness for four weeks is enough of a reason to visit your doctor.
8. Your Urine Is CloudyRelated: Urine Color What Does It Mean?
When you pee, the color of your urine should be clear, and the color should almost resemble light lemonade. If the urine is dark yellow, it can be a clear indicator of dehydration. However, if it is cloudy or very dark, you could have a bladder stone that is irritating the wall of your bladder.
7. You’ve Gotten Shorter
Did your jeans get shrink or did you? Odds are it’s you, and you could be experiencing the signs of osteoporosis. As your bones begin to weaken, the vertebrae in your spine can begin to compress, and you start to lose height.
6. Your Eyes Are Bulging
If this is a fairly new symptom, it could be due to an overactive thyroid, said Dr. Sontag. You may also notice other symptoms such as unexplained weight loss or irritability. A thyroid blood test will identify the condition. Iodine treatment can be administered to slow your thyroid.
5. You Have a Hankering for IceRelated: 10 Symptoms of Iron Deficiency
If you find you are constantly craving ice, Dr. Sontag suggests it might be due to an iron deficiency anemia. You will need blood work done so your physician can see your iron levels and figure out why you are anemic.
4. Your Big Toe Is Swollen
Your toe is swollen, but it didn’t happen by stubbing it. It can be an early symptom of gout, which is a painful sign of high risk for chronic diseases like high blood pressure and kidney disease.
3. You See Blood Spots in Your Eyes
Blood spots in your eyes are known as subconjunctival hemorrhages, and the American Heart Association suggests it is more common in people who have high blood pressure or diabetes. While these conditions don’t necessarily cause the spots, the two are linked together.
2. You’re a Woman and You’re Sprouting Chin Hair
This symptom can be a sign of polycystic ovary syndrome, said Dr. Sontag. “Usually you see just a few hairs, but they’re dark and coarse like a man’s beard,” he said. The hormonal imbalance can affect your period and also impact your fertility.
1. Your Feet Itch Like CrazyRelated: 20 Things Science Has Linked to Cancer
Are you pregnant? Due to a liver disease called cholestasis of pregnancy, you can experience severe itching on your hands and feet. While it’s rare, it is something to watch out for, as it can be dangerous for the baby; it increases the risk of complications like preterm delivery. Your OB/GYN will highly consider inducing labor as an option.