The human body is a strange machine, and it doesn’t always work exactly as it should. Especially as you get older, you probably notice more than a few odd developments, like unexplained bruises or creaky joints. In most cases, subtle changes to how the body functions are normal, and they shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
However, there are some subtle symptoms that should send you straight to your doctor. If you experience any of the following signs, you might want to make an Everyday Doctor appointment, ASAP:
1. Rapid Changes to Your Hair
During your lifetime, your hair is likely to undergo several changes — thickening and thinning, curling and straightening, etc. However, these changes should occur gradually, over the course of months or years. If you are seeing rapid changes to your hair, perhaps all new growth is gray or white or the hair is becoming brittle and falling out, you likely have an important medical concern that requires diagnosis and treatment.
2. Changes to Your Nails
Your nails are made out of the same stuff as your hair, so if you don’t have any hair to keep track of, you can watch your nails for health signs. Because nails grow more slowly than hair, you might not recognize changes to your nails as quickly as you would your hair. Generally, any change to your nails should send you to the doctor, so if your nails are turning a strange color (and you have not been painting them) or becoming flaky and brittle, you should book a medical appointment.
3. Chronic Fatigue
It is one thing to feel tired, especially after a late night, an early morning or a tough workout. However, if you are feeling fatigued — which is characterized by an unexplained lack of energy that pervades the entire body — on a consistent basis, there is probably something wrong with your health. Fatigue can even be the result of a mental health disorder, so you should get that checked, too.
4. Unexplained Changes to Weight
There is no miracle weight loss cure, so if you are suddenly shedding pounds and pounds of fat, you have a good reason to be alarmed. Weight loss should occur gradually, with only one or two pounds coming off per week — and that is entirely dependent on your starting body weight and your diet and exercise regimen. It is worth noting that a rapid increase in your weight should be concerning as well.
5. Frequent Fungal Infections
Unfortunately, fungus does grow on the human body under certain conditions. Diseases like athlete’s foot, jock itch and yeast infections are technically fungal infections, which arise when your skin and orifices have the wrong combination of pH level and moisture. One instance of a fungus isn’t much to worry about, but if you are combatting fungus on a regular basis, you could have a serious issue preventing your body from properly regulating itself.
6. Sudden Clumsiness
If you have never been particularly coordinated, there are plenty of practices you can do to reduce your clumsiness. However, if you are suddenly tripping, twitching, bumping into things or missing easy catches, you should see a doctor. Contrary to popular belief, clumsiness is not a typical sign of aging, so you should work to keep your strength and coordination in check.
7. Blood Where It Shouldn’t Be
You should expect to see blood coming out of cuts or scrapes, but there are a few places you never want to see blood leaving your body. For example, red or pink urine indicates blood; bloody stool can be black or red; eyes can show blood if they are red, pink, brown or yellow; and your gums will look extra red if they are bloody. All of these instances should send you straight to your health care provider of choice.
8. Consistent Itchiness
Itchy skin can go away with the right creams and lotions. If you feel itchy even with proper moisturization, it is likely that the itchy sensation is a false flag from your nervous system. If the itchiness is in your mouth or throat, you should seek immediate medical treatment; otherwise, you should make a doctor’s appointment to help identify potential causes of your discomfort.
9. Extreme Swelling
Gravity pulls the fluids in your body into your legs and feet over the course of the day, especially if you are active and upright for many hours at a time. Still, if you wake up with swollen extremities or the swelling is extreme and causes pain or lack of mobility, your body is trying to tell you something, and a medical professional can help you find the solution.