Most of us live on the run, so it’s easy to let chronic health niggles slip under the radar. But experts say some symptoms should never be ignored.
A persistent cold and or sore throat: If you have a cold or sore throat that won’t go away, it is worth seeing your GP, who can check for infection or other complications. A long-lasting cold could signal a bacterial or sinus infection, while a sore throat might indicate streptococcus infection, which should be treated quickly with antibiotics. A chronic sore throat could also signal glandular fever, a cancerous tumour or allergies. A chronic sore throat can sometimes also be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease, where acid travels up your windpipe causing inflammation and long-term, increasing the risk of cancer, if untreated.
Persistent bloating: In many cases, occasional bloating is caused by constipation, irritable bowel or ovulation. However, regular or ongoing bloating accompanied by other symptoms could be a sign of cancer. Persistent bloating due to fluid in the abdomen can be a symptom of ovarian cancer.
Common symptoms include: Frequent abdominal or pelvic pain, increased abdominal size or persistent abdominal bloating, needing to urinate often or urgently and feeling full after eating a small amount
Puffy eyes and ankles: Though hormonal fluctuations and excess salt can cause fluid retention, constant puffy eyes and ankles can also point to kidney disease. The fluid retention occurs because the balance between salt and water is upset and the kidney is not working well enough to correct it.
Irregular or painful periods: Extremely painful period cramps may be a sign of endometriosis, which causes the tissue that lines the uterus to grow outside the uterus. Diagnosing these conditions early can reduce complications and protect fertility.
Painful urination: Though painful urination can be caused by cystitis, Bateson says it could also be due an STI such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, genital herpes or trichomonisis, which caused by a parasite. Other sexually transmitted symptoms to look out for include blisters or irritated skin in the genital region or cramping in the lower abdomen.
Bleeding gums: The same bacteria that causes sore, inflamed and bleeding gums can contribute to heart disease by entering the bloodstream, causing inflammation and attaching itself to fatty plaques in the arteries.
What can you do? Keep an eye on your gums and see your dentist every six months for a scale, clean and check-up.
Itchy skin: Though hormonal changes might be to blame, itchy skin can also be a sign of liver disease, Dr Morton says. The culprit? Increasingly unhealthy lifestyles, which can cause fatty liver. See your GP if you are also experiencing other symptoms such as dark urine, nausea, loss of appetite and fatigue.
Snoring: Snoring does more than drive your partner crazy. It can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
What can you do? A sleep expert from the University of South Australia, Siobhan Banks, says an overnight sleep study could help. See your GP for referral to a sleep clinic.
Shortness of breath: Shortness of breath could indicate a heart problem, especially if it worsens when lying down, Dr Morton says.
“Fast or laboured breathing could be due to anaemia, anxiety, asthma, heart attack, a blood clot, respiratory disease or pneumonia.”
Nail changes: Watch for brittleness, which can signal thyroid problems and vitamin D deficiency. Indentations or pitting might be caused by dermatitis or a skin condition called psoriasis. Nail loosening and lifting from the nail bed can indicate a fungal infection.
This information is current as at 01/03/18.
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