And now for the more serious symptoms not to ignore. Please don’t be lazy about your health and consider the following.
Out-of-the-Ordinary Breast Changes
The size, feel, and look of your breasts are as individual as you are, and breasts often change predictably throughout the month.
Some women normally have lumps; others get a lump every month before their period.
But something outside of your usual breast condition could be a symptom of a health problem.
Look for anything new that persists, such as a mass, skin change, or rash that doesn’t go away in a day but sticks around.
➡ Breast cancer can appear as an unusual redness of the skin that looks like an infection, swelling, lumps, bumps, or nodules.
➡ Other possible symptoms include nipple discharge that’s bloody and breasts that become unusually asymmetrical.
Unexpected Irregular Vaginal Bleeding
➡ If your menstrual period becomes unusually heavy or irregular, happens more often than every three weeks, or you have spotting between periods, get these symptoms checked out.
➡ Discuss any post-menopausal spotting with your doctor.
➡ Some common causes are polyps (noncancerous growths) and either atrophy or thickening of the endometrium (the lining of your uterus).
However, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, even a little bit of bleeding after menopause may indicate a serious condition.
Dramatic, unexplained changes in weight can also be a sign of a serious health problem. For example:
➡ Weight loss can be a sign of cancer
➡ Weight gain may be a warning sign of heart failure or thyroid issues.
While ovarian cancer is uncommon, bloating is often one of the first symptoms.
If you have weight gain along with swelling in both of your legs and shortness of breath when you lie flat, you could be showing signs of heart failure.
Rapid weight gain, swelling in both legs, retaining fluid can happen when your heart doesn’t pump fluid as efficiently as it should. They may point to heart failure.
Moles That Bleed or Change Are Red Flags
Having moles isn’t necessarily a problem, but moles that bleed or change form are red flags.
The rule of thumb is to follow the “ABCDE” of your mole:
- Asymmetric appearance
- A Border that’s irregular
- Color variation
- Diameter larger than a pencil eraser
- Evolving size, color, and shape
The American Academy of Dermatology says these are warning signs of possible melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
- If there’s a history of skin cancer in your family, watch your moles even more closely. Routine evaluations can help find potential problems.
- If you have a concern about a mole, take a photo of it every six months to make it easier to notice changes over time.
Persistent Leg Pain on One Side may be due to a Blood Clot
➡ Swelling and pain in one leg that doesn’t go away may signal that you have a blood clot inside a vein, known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
➡ These signs should be tended to at once, particularly if you’re at higher risk for DVT.
➡ Risk factors that make DVT blood clots more likely get riskier with age.
- These include smoking, having surgery, being on estrogen-containing pills or hormone therapy, being immobile for a long period of time (like during long-distance travel), being pregnant, and recently giving birth.
➡ A life-threatening pulmonary embolism can occur when a blood clot moves from one part of your body to your lungs and blocks a vital artery there. About 70% of blood clots that travel to the lungs begin in the legs.
Seek Medical Help for Heart Palpitations that Last 15 Minutes or more
➡ An intermittent extra heartbeat here or there isn’t something that should concern you. But if you have heart palpitations that last longer than 15 minutes — especially if they’re accompanied by shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness, or loss of consciousness — you should be checked out.
These symptoms could indicate a heart condition called atrial fibrillation.
- In atrial fibrillation, the top chambers of the heart beat more quickly than the lower chambers.
➡ When prolonged, this can result in blood clots that can move to other parts of the body and may lead to stroke or heart failure over time.
Pain Under Strain? Get It Checked Out
We know chest pain in older men may be a sign of heart attack. But we haven’t gotten that same sort of education with women.
➡ Women fear breast cancer more than heart disease, but they’re more likely to have heart disease.
In fact, heart disease is the No.1 killer of women in America today, causing more deaths than all types of cancer combined.
➡ If you lift something and have chest pain that you’ve never had before, get it checked out.
➡ You should also see your doctor about any new chest pain when you walk upstairs or exert yourself in some way.
This is particularly important if the pain goes away after a short period of rest.
➡ Women are more likely than men to have atypical symptoms of a heart attack:
- shortness of breath
- nausea and vomiting,
- extreme fatigue
- a cold sweat
- pain in the arms, back, neck, or stomach.
Get these, and any of the more traditional symptoms checked out.
➡ Worsening Shortness of Breath could Be a sign of Heart Disease. Don’t ignore shortness of breath by assuming it’s from a lack of exercise or recent weight gain.
If you experience shortness of breath after exertion that progressively gets worse, it could be a sign of heart diseases such as:
➡ Aortic stenosis (a valve problem in older women)
➡ Coronary Artery Disease (a partial blockage in an artery leading to the heart).
Check with your doctor if you have shortness of breath that suddenly gets worse.
Sudden Vision Changes – This may be signs of a Stroke.
➡ As you age, it’s normal for your vision to progressively worsen. But don’t ever ignore visual changes that affect only one eye, the sudden onset of double vision, or the inability to see the center of what you’re looking at.
➡ Vision changes that occur suddenly can be signs of a stroke. They’re particularly alarming if they come with other warning symptoms of stroke, such as numbness on one side of the body, or difficulty speaking or finding the right words.
➡ More subtle variations on these symptoms could indicate a Transient Ischemic Attack, commonly called a mini-stroke. Getting them checked out could prevent a larger stroke later.
Unexpected Bowel Habit Changes
➡ Bowel movements are a measure of how things are passing through your body, which means they can be a good indicator of something that’s gone wrong.
have similar symptoms. These include bleeding or blood in the stool, and any major changes in the amount, frequency (either constipation or diarrhea), consistency, or appearance of stools.
➡ Bowel changes that don’t go away after a couple of days or weeks should be checked out with your doctor.
I know you’re busy...it’s a busy world. My hope for you, however, is that you always, no exceptions, put your health first, and be mindful of changes within your body before they lead to heartaches.
To learn more and/or understand better, be sure to click on the links within the article, which are highlighted in blue and always underlined.