Image: Dean Drobot/123rf

The human body is quite the scientific marvel, not only in how it functions but also in how it is continuously working to heal itself.

By paying attention and observing your body, you will notice that your body has a very impressive self-protection mechanism. And while we’ve taken great strides in science and technology, there’s still much to be learned about human bodies.

Our bodies are constantly sending us signals as to what is going on within them – much like when you’re driving a car and the ‘low petrol’ or ‘check engine’ sign comes on – our bodies have a certain way of communicating to us that there’s a problem that needs fixing.

However, most of the time we’re either not paying attention to these indicators or we don’t know that they’re signs that the body is asking for help.

So, here are 6 common tell-tale signs that you should really hit up your doctor for a check-up: 

1. Change in your bowel movement 
In a perfectly healthy state, your bowels should be releasing alongside every meal, removing unwanted toxins and making room for new dietary nutrition. When we don’t poop regularly our bodies are more inclined to let toxins seep through the lining of our bowels causing it to enter the bloodstream -where it does not belong and can wreak a lot of havoc.

In addition to taking note of how often you go to the bathroom daily, identify if there is any major change in the colour, smell and/or shape. Also consider if your food choices are affecting your poo pattern.

2. Chest pain like ‘an elephant sitting on the chest’ 
Pain in the chest is the classic symptom of a heart attack. Heart related chest pain is often centred under the breastbone, and a little left of centre, and it is a very uncomfortable sensation of pressure, squeezing, and feels like an ‘elephant’ sitting on your chest.

If the sensation is short and temporary, then you might have suffered an angina (reduced blood flow to the heart muscle). 

If so, then you better make it your priority to get a heart check-up as that can be an early sign of a more serious heart problem. 

However if the symptoms are getting severe, going on for more than 10 minutes, and accompanied by pain in arms, jaw, and shortness of breath, stay calm, get help and have someone take you to the nearest hospital.

3. You sleep a lot but remain tired 
By ‘tired’ we mean exhaustion – characterised by continuous yawning, with no energy to even maintain a conversation or to be social. Since you seem to be able to sleep a lot, then sleep isn’t the problem.

It could however mean that there is an internal problem such as your thyroid function, low iron or even an issue with the brain, so it is definitely time to get a full body check.
You might want to nip this in the bud before you find yourself exhausted without knowing why and relying on an endless cycle of coffee and redbull just to get you through the day.

4. Numbing Lower Back Pain 
An aching back that also feels numb or pain that starts in the buttocks and extends down the back of your legs (sciatica) may be signs of a herniated (slipped) disk.
This occurs when a portion of a spinal disk ruptures and presses on the nerve. 

While this might not seem like an issue at first, it can get worse and affect the mobility of your life. A physical exam by your doctor can usually diagnose the problem.

Non-surgical treatments such as rest, painkillers, and simple core strengthening exercises will relieve symptoms in more than 90 per cent of patients, but if the pain continues, you may need surgery to remove the disk.

5. Itchy breast – one of the warning signs of breast cancer 
This symptom that primarily associated with inflammatory breast cancer, is often missed. You’d be surprised at how many women with inflammatory breast cancer spend months visiting the dermatologist, only to be sent home with creams and medications for a rash. 

What you need to watch out for is a feeling of extreme itchiness which makes you feel like you absolutely have to scratch.

Except scratching doesn’t help, and neither do the ointments that typically relieve itchiness. Your breast may also feel irritated, or the skin may be scaly or dimpled like cellulite. 

If the skin of your breast looks odd or your breasts feel different, see your doctor right away.
Except scratching doesn’t help, and neither do the ointments that typically relieve itchiness. Your breast may also feel irritated, or the skin may be scaly or dimpled like cellulite.

6. Nagging cough or hoarseness that won’t go away 
If you find yourself coughing long after you’ve cleared that cold (or if you never had one in the first place), there could be other, sneakier causes at work: post nasal drips, allergies, asthma, heartburn, chronic bronchitis, or even a serious condition like lung cancer. Get a check-up and screen of your lungs in order to get ahead of what might be a serious problem.

 

This story was originally published in AsiaOne.com