In the age of online symptom checkers and live chats with medical professionals, it's all too easy to give into a sense of hypochondria. Aside from playing WebMD, knowing some of the stranger symptoms of serious health issues is still a good idea. Of course, these symptoms often occur in the absence of serious illness. Still, these tips might just save you a lot of time and expense trying to figure out what's wrong, or they may even save your life.
The jaw is actually close to the heart, and even in the absence of chest pain, sudden jaw pain may indicate a heart blockage. Especially if accompanied by any shortness of breath or pain in and around the heart area, this can be a telltale sign of heart issues that need to be addressed by a doctor immediately.
Doctors often examine the ankles for swelling to get insight into how the kidneys are functioning. This is because decreased kidney function or kidney failure leads to the body retaining more sodium, which creates swelling, especially in the ankles and feet.
Trouble breathing and tightness in the chest are symptoms of many things, including seasonal allergies and anxiety, but also more serious issues like heart attacks. If there is a blockage in the arteries, the entire chest area may be affected and manifest itself as a feeling of asthma.
Making a lot of trips to the bathroom could mean you are doing an excellent job of staying hydrated, but if it seems excessive, it could also indicate Type 2 diabetes. This happens because sugar builds up in the blood and your organs are working overtime to clean it all up, leading to a frequent need to keep things draining. For men, frequent urination can also mean prostate trouble.
HICCUPS THAT WON'T GO AWAY
Hiccups can be caused by a local disturbance, such as a tumor or cancerous cells in and around the throat. Persistent hiccups can also be a warning of problems in the brain, such as indicating a stroke.
Being cold all the time is a sign that something is off. Oftentimes, it points to thyroid issues, specifically underactive thyroid. An underactive thyroid decreases the amount of energy you burn and sometimes your bodily temperature, making you feel chilly.
CHANGES IN BOWEL HABITS
Even if you don't like talking about poop, it's an important indicator of health. Changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or blood/mucus in the stool, can indicate a number of underlying issues. Some of the most common culprits are irritable bowel syndrome, cancer, intestinal parasites, and anxiety.
A sore tongue can indicate a lack of vitamin B12, which can lead to anemia. Especially when accompanied by fatigue and weak or brittle nails, this is a classic sign that a body is deficient in this essential vitamin. A simple blood test can determine levels of B12, which can be replenished with a vitamin pill or through diet.
FACIAL HAIR AND/OR PATTERN BALDNESS IN WOMEN
These symptoms may be uncomfortable to bring up with a doctor, but they can help point to the cause, which can be Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). This disease affects the endocrine system, which regulates hormones throughout the body, and can be present with or without cysts on the ovaries.
Diabetes causes the blood to get overrun with insulin and/or sugar, depending on the type of diabetes. This forces the organs to work harder to bring balance back to the blood, and signals the body to eliminate waste more often, leading to a feeling of dehydration and never-ending thirst.
This very specific symptom is a strong indicator of thyroid issues. When it comes to checking the thyroid, there are many different lab tests that can be done. If you notice thinning in your eyebrows, especially the outer edges, ask your doctor about possible thyroid issues.
TINGLING HANDS AND FEET
Diabetes is known to cause nerve damage, which can manifest as either tingling or pain in the limbs. Most people experience tingling before pain, and a recurring tingling sensation in the hands and feet can help identify diabetes in people who are developing the disease.
LOSS OF TASTE
Researchers still don't know exactly how Alzheimer's disease works, but we do know that it affects the brain, which controls the nervous system. One of the many unfortunate symptoms of the disease is a loss of taste, which can often occur in the beginning stages of the disease before other more obvious symptoms start to show.
Sometimes itchy skin is a sign of a disorder more serious and costly than just dry skin. Persistently itchy skin can be a symptom of conditions like dermatitis and psoriasis. Psoriasis alone costs the country upward of $50 billion a year, a 2015 study found. There are no cures for these conditions, but early diagnosis can save patients money over the long term by identifying cost-effective treatment. Itchy skin can also be a sign of liver disease or cancers like leukemia and lymphoma.
Blurred vision is commonly associated with myopia, or nearsightedness, which is easily remedied with glasses or contact lenses. Parents may save money over the long term by having an ophthalmologist or optometrist identify impairments in children early. Research indicates that corrective measures can slow the progress of some vision disorders. Sudden blurring of vision can be cause for a hospital visit, as it's associated with more serious health issues like diabetes, stroke, and multiple sclerosis.
Stephen Johnson contributed to this report.