The aches and pain you feel when you are ill let you know something is wrong. However, it can be difficult to tell if you simply need a few days in bed or if you should seek medical treatment from symptoms alone.
There are a few symptoms that rarely have benign causes. If you experience any of the symptoms below, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.
Swelling is a normal reaction when the skin or body is irritated. For example, if you’ve ever been bitten by a bug or exposed to an allergen, you may notice that your eyes or skin will become enlarged and red. This is because the natural immune response causes tissues to swell. While this can be uncomfortable, this type of swelling will eventually subside.
Swelling that occurs throughout the body or without obvious injury can indicate a much more serious health problem. For example, a blood clot can trigger sudden swelling and chest pain. Swelling in the lower extremities may also be a sign of organ failure or a venous disorder.
If the swelling has no known cause, appears suddenly, or persists for more than a day, health experts recommend seeing a doctor.
Most people empty their bladder between four and ten times per day. If you notice that you have the urge to go more frequently than usual, it may be a sign of a wider health issue.
Excessive urine production is a side effect of hypercalcemia, a condition that develops when blood calcium levels are too high. In addition to frequent urination, you may experience digestive issues and pain.
Hypercalcemia is diagnosed through a blood test. You can provide a blood sample at your doctor’s office or through or request an in-home draw through the Labcorp schedule appointment section of the company’s website.
Other symptoms such as blood in the urine or difficulty passing urine point to an infection of the urinary tract, kidneys, or bladder. Your doctor will run different tests to determine the underlying cause.
Sometimes people experience an increased need to urinate without producing any additional urine. Overactive bladder syndrome is more common in older adults but is also a side effect of chronic conditions such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis. If the need to urinate is constantly disrupting your sleep or accompanied by abdominal pain, you may benefit from medical treatment.
If you consistently get eight or more hours of sleep per night but still feel exhausted throughout the day, you may have an underlying health issue. Chronic fatigue can be caused by a range of conditions, from mental health issues like depression to allergies and infections.
Fatigue is also a common side effect of poor nutrition. Fatigue that lasts more than six months or appeared suddenly without clear cause should be investigated by a doctor. If exhaustion occurs with chest pains, changes to consciousness, or weakness, it may be a medical emergency.
Eating more or less than usual is a sign that your body is having difficulty maintaining homeostasis. Your appetite is regulated by the hypothalamus, which relies on chemical messengers and hormones to induce or reduce hunger pangs. There are several conditions that can interfere with this process and affect your appetite.
Stress, depression, and anxiety can send cortisol levels soaring and trigger intense cravings for sugar-dense foods. Thyroid issues can also increase appetite.
At the other end of the spectrum, a loss of appetite can be the result of infection or organ failure. If reduced appetite leads to sudden weight loss, you should talk to your doctor.
Losing up to 100 strands of hair per day is normal, but hair that falls out in clumps or leaves bald patches is a serious condition. Women with hormonal imbalances often experience severe hair loss.
Hair thinning or loss can also arise if your diet lacks certain essential minerals such as zinc, iron, or protein. This is much more likely if you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. A vitamin deficiency panel can measure nutrient levels in your blood. If you are deficient, you can work with your primary care doctor or a nutritionist to adjust your diet.
Also known as polydipsia, excessive thirst without explanation is an early indicator of diabetes. Since the body cannot process glucose, blood sugar levels rise to unmanageable levels. This can trigger excessive thirst that doesn’t dissipate, even after drinking water.
In some cases, excessive thirst is a coping mechanism for anxiety or stress. People will drink large amounts of liquids as a nervous habit. Unfortunately, this can lead to water intoxication, a dangerous condition that can cause seizures. If you notice your mouth remains dry even after drinking water, weight loss, or vision issues, excessive thirst may be a sign of a larger problem.