Special Report

25 Health Symptoms People Always Ignore but Never Should

Hristina Byrnes

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1. Intense headache

Headaches, even migraines, are very often caused by dehydration. This is easily fixed — drink a lot of water and most of the time this will suffice. But sometimes a headache is a sign of a more complicated health problem, including tumor, brain swelling, and infection in the brain. Sometimes the cause can be an emergency, such as carbon monoxide poisoning, bleeding in or around the brain, or a stroke, according to the National Institutes of Health. If the headache is severe as in “the worst ever,” sudden, and it comes with other symptoms such as vomiting, stiff neck, high fever, or nausea, call your doctor right away.

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2. Severe stomach pain

Oftentimes, stomach pain is caused by indigestion, constipation, a virus, or gas. But stomach pain or discomfort can also be a sign of heart attack in women, according to the American Heart Association. If this is the case, however, the pain will often be intense and will be accompanied by other symptoms such as jaw pain, some discomfort in the lower chest area, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, or nausea.

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3. Snoring

Snoring is very common — about 90 million Americans snore, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Half of them have sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder characterized by repeated stops in breathing during sleep. Snoring does not always indicate sleep apnea, but it should be treated as it may be an early sign of future health problems. One study found that snoring may increase the risk of hardening of the arteries, which can lead to vascular diseases. These are America’s heart disease “capitals.”

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4. Dark circles under the eyes

Dark circles under the eyes can be confused for a not very serious problem, but they may indicate an allergy. Known as allergic shiners, people often think they are just aging or perhaps not getting enough sleep, said Dr. Tania Elliott, spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. “The truth is blood vessels under the skin dilate in the setting of allergic reactions, and because the skin under the eyes is so thin, you see the result of that dilation in the form of dark circles.”

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5. Unexplained weight loss or gain

If a person has not changed his or her daily routine at all and has lost 5% of body weight or 10 pounds with no obvious reason, he or she should be checked out by a doctor. The weight loss may be the result of several possible underlying conditions. It may be a sign of cancer as cancer cells use up the body’s energy supply, according to the American Cancer Society. It may also indicate thyroid problems, dementia, depression, Celiac disease, dental problems, and even heart failure, which can actually be the reason why you can’t lose weight.

Weight gain can be a side effect of certain medications, Cushing’s syndrome (high cortisol levels in the blood for a long time), Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which makes women resistant to insulin, leading to weight gain, and an underactive thyroid.