Sometimes it can be hard to press the pause button on your busy life long enough to see your doctor. But some symptoms warrant a visit sooner, rather than later. In addition to discussing any health changes with your primary care physician (PCP) during your annual wellness exam, you should consider a checkup if you notice any of these six symptoms — all of which can point to more serious health conditions.
Constipation often increases in people over the age of 50, and has a variety of potential causes, such as bed rest after illness or an accident, certain medications or dietary changes.
While occasional constipation isn’t necessarily a worry, having frequent constipation could mean there’s a tumor (colorectal cancer) in your lower bowel that’s blocking waste from leaving your body. Since colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men, it’s important to get evaluated if you’re experiencing ongoing digestive issues. Thankfully, this type of cancer is highly treatable, especially when caught early through screening.
You should tell your doctor about any digestive issues that last longer than two weeks, such as bloating, bloody or narrow stools, cramping or unexplained weight loss.
Being tired during the day on a regular basis could mean you have sleep apnea, a condition that causes a person to stop breathing 5–30 times each hour during sleep. Because of these dangerous pauses in breathing, people with sleep apnea don’t get restful, restorative sleep. Sleep apnea is fairly common if you’re overweight or snore heavily. Sleep apnea can also lead to other serious complications, such as:
- Heart Arrhythmia
- Heart Attack
- Heart Failure
- High Blood Pressure
Heavy Ache That Quickly Disappears
If you experience a heavy aching pain that quickly appears and then disappears, the cause may be as simple as indigestion or could signal a heart attack. To be safe, if you ever feel any pain or pressure in your chest, shortness of breath or sudden pain in your arms or shoulders, you should call 911.
Pain in Your Side
Besides just being annoying, feeling pain in your side between your ribs and hips could signal appendicitis, inflamed gallbladder or pancreatitis. In all of these conditions, an organ is blocked and can result in a serious, potentially lethal infection.
Shortness of Breath
If you’re experiencing shortness of breath, it could mean you have one of the following conditions:
- Chronic Bronchitis
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Congestive Heart Failure
- Heart Attack
- Lung Cancer
Shortness of breath can often be caused by a personal history of smoking. But even if you’ve never smoked a cigarette in your life, you could still experience this condition.
Having trouble urinating can signal an enlarged prostate or in the most severe case, prostate cancer. Talk to your doctor right away if you have:
- Blood in Your Urine
- Frequent Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
- Pelvic Pain or Discomfort
- Weak Urine Stream
Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up
Left undiagnosed and untreated, your symptoms could lead to a serious medical condition. Make sure you speak with a primary care provider (PCP) right away if you experience any of these symptoms. Your doctor’s top priority is your best health, so do your part to let them know what’s going on with you and your body.