Heed Your Body's Warning Signals
Virtua for Women family medicine physician Nermin Lazarus, DO, outlines the 5 most-ignored body parts that are actually important to your health.
While blurry vision or fatigue could be signs of aging eyes in need of vision correction, they also can be an indication of more serious issues. See your primary care doctor promptly for the following:
- Broken blood vessels or blood spots: This could be a sign of diabetes.
- Blurry vision: This could be a sign of high blood pressure, other blood vessel problems or eye disease.
- Red, itchy, watery eyes: This could be a sign of easily treatable seasonal or pet allergies.
In addition to regular dental hygiene such as brushing and flossing, bi-annual cleanings and exams contribute to better overall health.
These are signs for concern and should be addressed with your primary care doctor or dentist:
- Red, inflamed gums: This can be a sign of heart disease or infection. Bacteria can cause gum infections that lead to gum disease, or in rare cases, cause systemic infections.
- Tooth enamel erosion: This can be a sign of reflux, when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus.
- White/red patches or bumps on the tongue, gums or inside of cheeks: This can be a sign of oral cancer and needs immediate attention.
Incontinence is an INCREDIBLY common issue for women, especially after you’ve had children, so Dr. Lazarus stresses the importance of talking to your doctor about the symptoms.
- Leaking urine when you laugh, cough or exercise vigorously: This is a sign of stress incontinence, which can be easily treated with many options ranging from physical therapy and medications to surgery.
- Strong urge to urinate/run for the bathroom: This is a sign of urge incontinence, otherwise known as overactive bladder, which is treated with options ranging from physical therapy and biofeedback to medications and surgery.
A strong urge to urinate, coupled with burning and discomfort is a sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI). UTIs are no joke – as soon as you feel the symptoms you should seek treatment from your doctor or at an urgent care center. Left untreated, UTIs can lead to more serious kidney infections.
It's important to note if your bowel habits have changed. This includes:
- Decreased/increased frequency and/or a change in stool color or consistency: If you can’t attribute your symptoms to a recent meal, and you experience them over a few weeks, you need to see your doctor.
“Acute stress can affect your bowels temporarily, but prolonged symptoms can be an indication of colon cancer, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, or irritable bowel syndrome. Testing will determine the cause and appropriate treatment,” notes Dr. Lazarus
Foot pain can lead to knee, hip and back problems as you try to work through the pain. Since the site of pain can vary, your primary care doctor can assess the main cause and treat you accordingly.
- Toe pain: This can be a sign of arthritis, gout, a bunion or hammer toe. Age, lifestyle and wearing heels or tight shoes all contribute to toe pain.
- Ball-of-foot pain: This pain is often felt while walking or running and can result from wearing heels, being overweight, or from improper foot movement.
- Heel pain: If pain is felt more first thing in the morning, it could be plantar fasciitis. If the heel pain is worse when standing or walking, it could be heel spurs.Overall foot pain, burning or stinging: This can be the most serious as it’s often neuropathy associated with diabetes.
Dr. Lazarus adds: “Like all of these issues, it’s best to talk about them with your doctor and FIX them – not ignore them.”
Updated June 6, 2016