It’s safe to say that the traumatic year of 2020 has taught us that the quality of our lives is highly dependent on our health. Even doing the simplest and most mundane tasks can become tiresome if you don’t feel physically fit or well. While science repeatedly reminds us that health is wealth, the truth is that most of us don’t consider our physical well-being until it becomes a necessity. We don’t visit the doctor or invest in healthcare until we fall ill or notice visible signs of distress. What’s more, by the time the illness is detected, it has already worsened way more than it should have.
Why should we look for signs of deteriorating health?
For certain diseases, especially those that get terminal with progression, a slight delay in diagnosis could mean the difference between life and death. Early detection followed by swift treatment is critical to recovery without permanent damage to the body. While we cannot entirely protect ourselves from the numerous health-related issues, we can certainly reduce our chances of contracting these conditions. The key is to remain aware, vigilant, and well-informed about common illnesses and associated markers. For instance, many people who develop mesothelioma, a rare yet fatal cancer, are unable to detect it in the initial stages. And that’s primarily because its symptoms are similar to common health issues like flu. However, consulting professionals on time can help avoid severe consequences.
We have compiled a list of alarming signs that could indicate an underlying health condition for your ease. If you struggle with these troubling symptoms consistently, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider to be on the safe side.
Symptoms are likely to vary from patient to patient and depend largely on the type of illness caused. But some common conditions that are tell-tale signs of deteriorating health include:
Chronic fatigue is often confused with being tired, but the condition is much worse and persistent in reality. No matter how much rest one takes, the lethargy doesn’t seem to go away, making even mundane tasks feel like a burden. When infection or a virus afflicts the body, the immune system works harder than usual to ward off foreign invaders, neutralize cell damage, and prevent their progression. Since the body is at constant war with itself, all its vitalities, fuel, and nutrition are being utilized to combat the illnesses, leaving little energy for everyday functioning.
This constant wear-out and exhaustion make it difficult for individuals to go about their day or focus on work. And so, fatigue is a strong indicator of an underlying health issue and should not be ignored.
Fluctuation in Weight
An increase or decrease in body weight without any change in diet or activity could also be a prominent sign of declining health. Infectious cells demand more nutrition and energy to further their growth and divide. When the food that nourishes the body is instead fueling the spread of an infection, it burns many calories. This nutrient theft leaves the body depleted of energy and degrades its metabolic rate and ability to absorb nutrition. Moreover, foreign particles release toxins called cytokines that cause nausea and loss of appetite, which further contribute to unexpected weight loss.
However, some diseases impact the body differently. Their effects may be the opposite, causing an individual to pack on a few extra pounds. Bacterial, viral, or parasitic invasion weakens the body’s immune system and leads to rapid hormonal fluctuations. Insufficient production of critical hormones massively slows down the body’s metabolism and its ability to process calories. This inability to degrade fat and utilize nourishment can ultimately lead to unwanted weight gain.
Consistent fever is one of the most obvious tell-tale signs that the body isn’t working optimally. Fever associated with a health disorder doesn’t go away in a day or two. Instead, it’s aggressive and keeps coming back from time to time. Hypothalamus is a region of the brain that commands involuntary mechanisms like the body’s temperature. External cells are known to produce toxins called pyrogens which interfere with the normal functioning of the hypothalamus. When these toxins reach the brain, they inhibit heat-sensing neurons and trigger cold-sensing ones, deceiving the hypothalamus and causing an involuntary rise in the body temperature.
Nonetheless, the higher temperatures also tend to assist the weakened immune system. It defends the body as the extra heat supports the replication and growth of healthy white blood cells and antibodies. Therefore, fever is a response to microbial invasion and is a prominent symbol that the body is warding off infection.
Pain is an undeniable sign that something is wrong with your body. Unexplained and persistent pain that seems to be worsening over time is a sure sign of trouble. The site and severity of the pain are largely dependent on the region of the body afflicted by the ailment. When damaged cells grow and divide, they latch onto surrounding organs. In doing so, they produce toxic chemicals that irritate the body and trigger an inflammatory response.
Moreover, rapidly replicating intoxicated cells group together and form a mass that presses against nerves and bones. This repeated compression, pressure, and unwanted force can cause chronic pain in the long run.
Another marker of deteriorating health is repeated swelling or bloating. On entering the body, infectious or viral agents generate toxins that can impact the body’s lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is responsible for regulating secretory fluids and monitoring blood levels. When lymph nodes malfunction, the blood vessels and veins forming this system get blocked, affecting their ability to drain the fluids effectively. Moreover, they can even leak these secretions onto surrounding tissues and organs. Over time, they accumulate and build up, forming ascites.
Long-term protein deficiency and water retention is the leading cause of edema.
Changes Within the Skin
By now, we have established that unfamiliar cells invade the body and impact its functioning in various ways. They cause hormonal changes, weaken the immune system, and produce chemicals that make it hard for the organs to function optimally. Skin is also an organ of the body. It’s the largest one to exist and the first to experience visible consequences. For instance, a change in skin color is a major symptom of serious underlying health issues. Different illnesses can cause the skin to adopt different colors.
The loss of oxygen and breathing problems associated with respiratory diseases can cause the skin to develop a bluish-purple tone. Another issue can be excessive skin dryness; when the epidermal cells lose their moisture and become dehydrated, the skin develops a flaky, scaly, and dry texture. It can lead to rashes, painful wounds, and pressure sores due to the constant pressure and friction.
More and more health-related issues seem to arise every year with the degrading environmental conditions and increasing hazards. While one cannot entirely protect themselves from these illnesses, the chances of contracting them can be reduced. Being educated about the symptoms, observing preventative measures, and checking in regularly with a professional are small but effective habits to ensure well-being. Therefore, be vigilant about your health and monitor the alarming signs of serious health conditions.