AN APPLE A DAY IS NOT ENOUGH
Going to the doctor can end up at the bottom of anyone's to-do list — but certain problems shouldn't be ignored. While many ailments can be managed with medication and regular check-ups, letting them go untreated, to the point where your body is practically telling you to go to the doctor, can lead to bigger problems. Make time to seek medical attention when it comes to these health problems.
Can lead to: Insomnia, heart disease, depression and obesity
Affects: Up to 44 percent of Americans
We all live busy lives, but being constantly overwhelmed with stress can create real problems for your health. In addition to being a leading cause of insomnia, chronic stress can lead to serious physical ailments. A survey by the American Psychological Association revealed that 33 percent of Americans never discuss ways to manage stress with their healthcare provider. Consider talking to your doctor or a medical health practitioner for ways to cope.
DIABETES TYPE 2
Can lead to: Kidney damage, eye damage, limb amputation
Affects: More than 29 million Americans
Staying on top of your diabetes — and making regular check-ups a part of your care — is critical in managing this disease. Though symptoms can be easy to ignore, especially in the early stages, the long-term complications can be blindness, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease and even a lost leg or foot.
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
Can lead to: Heart attack, stroke, aneurysm
Affects: 75 million American adults
While most people don't realize they have this problem unless they have their blood pressure checked, that doesn't make the problems associated with leaving it untreated any less severe. Damage to your heart, arteries, brain and kidneys are all very real possibilities.
Can lead to: Mental health issues, goiter, heart problems, birth defects
Affects: Up to 20 million Americans
While many people may notice one of the more unsettling symptoms of hypothyroidism — weight gain — they may want to ask their doctor to check their thyroid, especially if they know they haven't been eating more lately to explain it. Untreated hypothyroidism can cause a lengthy list of problems, and if you're pregnant, the baby can have physical and mental development issues.
Can lead to: Aches and pains, homelessness, suicide
Affects: 42.5 million Americans
While many people who have mental illness are reluctant to seek help, trying to tough it out can create far bigger issues. In addition to the health problems that face people with chronic stress, those with mental health issues may find that they interfere with their ability to keep a job or interact with others if left untreated.
PELVIC INFLAMMATORY DISEASE
Can lead to: Infertility, chronic pain, uterine abscess
Affects: More than 750,000 women a year
While terrible menstrual cramps can have many causes, it's never a bad idea to check in with a doctor. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is easily treated with a round of antibiotics, but left untreated can cause infertility or a dangerous ectopic pregnancy.
Can lead to: High blood pressure, diabetes, liver problems
Affects: 22 million people
While many people complain about their partner's snoring, it may be more than a nuisance. Because a person's airway is closing repeatedly through the night, daytime fatigue and sleepiness is one problem — but more serious ones, like diabetes and high blood pressure, can also occur.
Can lead to: Heart problems, pregnancy complications, severe fatigue
Affects: Roughly 10 million people
While fatigue or cold hands and feet can sound like a silly reason to see the doctor, it's important to rule out iron deficiency anemia. Untreated anemia can result in an irregular heartbeat and other serious heart problems.
Can lead to: Chronic depression, problems with mother-child bonding, suicide
Affects: Approximately 950,000 women per year
Many women feel too embarrassed to mention the "baby blues" to their doctors, but they should, especially if their feelings don't fade within two weeks of giving birth or get worse. In addition to helping a mother bond with her baby, treatments can stop depression from becoming chronic.
Can lead to: Spine fractures, hip fractures, deformity
Affects: Roughly 54 million Americans
While osteoporosis is considered a silent disease, as you can't feel your bones weakening, it doesn't make it less serious. Often the first outward symptom is a broken bone, but if you notice a loss in height or curving of your spine, get to a doctor so you can get to work on your bone strength.
Can lead to: Meningitis, encephalitis, open sores
Affects: One out of six Americans between ages 14 and 49
Because herpes can lay dormant in the body for years, it's possible 80 percent of the people who have it are unaware of it. However, an outbreak can result in an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) or inflammation of the brain itself (encephalitis), so see a doctor to get checked and find out about antiviral medication.
Can lead to: Puss-filled cysts, permanent scars
Affects: Two in every 1,000 Americans
While acne is a common consequence of adolescence, cystic (or inflammatory) acne can result in permanent, deep scarring if left untreated, or worse, subjected to some home treatments. Because it can be traumatic and even painful, see a doctor for treatment.
Can lead to: Infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, miscarriage
Affects: More than 1.5 million cases per year
Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases, and can have permanent consequences for a woman's reproductive system — even causing ectopic pregnancy, which can be fatal. However, it's easily treated, and women 25 and under should be checked for it annually.
Can lead to: Bowel cancer, bone loss, lymphoma, depression
Affects: At least 3 million people
Because celiac disease can cause different symptoms in different people, it can often be hard to diagnose — on average, getting a correct diagnosis takes most patients between six and 10 years. But it may be worth it to pester your doctor if you have any of the many symptoms attributed to celiac disease, as it can cause digestive cancers if untreated.