The human body is a rather interesting and intricate machine. We’ve all been under the weather at some point in our lives, and many of the time there are often precursors or warning signs leading up to certain illnesses. Much like a computer, when the body begins to shut down or something goes awry, it usually doesn’t happen without reason, and will send us little signals to let us know that something is off kilter. Below, Dr. Ali Ghahary has put together a list of some common conditions and their associated warning signs that your body may be signalling off to let you know something’s just not quite right.
Frequent or Recurrent Colds/Flu
A common cold or flu virus doesn’t just come out of nowhere. It usually begins with a sore throat and runny nose lasting for 2 to 3 days, which then leads to the worsening of those symptoms and more; i.e. nasal congestion, cough, fever, nausea, and vomiting. If you do happen to develop a cold or flu virus, this is a sign that your immune system has weakened and is in need of a boost – even more so if your colds or flu are recurrent. While most bugs are viral in nature, they can also be bacterial, which means the body works extra hard to fight off infection. As a result, patients will need to be put on a course of antibiotics to help rid themselves of the infection that is present. Along with prescribed medication, there are certain things you can do to decrease your chances of developing recurring colds or flu viruses – such as drinking more fluids (water is great for your overall health, as is orange juice (unsweetened), as oranges contain vitamin C which is great for improved immunity) and getting vaccinated. It’s also important not to overexert yourself and get plenty of rest when sick. Doing too much too soon may set you back and put you at risk of complications, such as the development of pneumonia. You can read more about common colds and the flu virus here.
There are many reasons why one might suffer a headache. You may be overtired from a long day at work or school, or they can also be the result of caffeine withdrawal (i.e. from cutting back on coffee consumption or not drinking enough throughout the day.) Headaches can also turn into migraines, which can be chronic in nature. A headache that is very severe and one that you can describe as being the worst headache you’ve ever had in your life may also be indicative of a very serious medical emergency, such as a brain aneurysm, and should not be ignored.
Dehydration is very common, especially during the summer. As the weather improves and gets warmer and sunnier, we often find ourselves spending more time outdoors, sometimes not realizing just how harmful the heat and the sun’s ultraviolet rays can be. If you do become dehydrated, the body will let you know. As a result of dehydration, you may have a dry mouth, develop headaches, feel fatigued, dizzy, nauseated, may vomit, and have decreased urine output. The best way to reduce the effects of dehydration is to increase your water and electrolyte intake. If you are severely dehydrated, you may require admission to the hospital where you will be given fluids intravenously and monitored for a few hours before being released.
Bowel Irregularity or Constipation
One of the most common reasons why you might develop bowel irregularity or constipation (the inability to have a bowel movement) is because you’re not including enough fibre in your diet. To get yourself regular and to loosen stools, you need to increase your fibre intake (it’s recommended that we get at least 35 to 40 grams of fibre per day.) Fibre can be found in legumes and plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains.
If you’ve worked a long shift, studied extra hard, spent a few hours taking that final exam for school, or had an intense workout at the gym, then you’re probably going to feel tired – that much is a given. However, if you feel tired all of the time or wake up feeling like you haven’t had a good night’s sleep, this could be an indicator that something more serious is at play aside from your usual day-to-day activities. Chronic fatigue is one medical condition that results in extreme fatigue or tiredness that does not go away, even after rest. Unrelenting exhaustion can also be signs of a concussion, infection, anxiety disorders, liver or kidney disease, thyroid disease, anemia, and even cancer. So, if you’re feeling unusually exhausted, you should let your family doctor know as he or she will most likely send you for additional testing.
It all boils down to this: While some health problems can be relatively minor, others may be serious, so it’s important to listen to what your body is trying to tell you and seek medical attention whenever something doesn’t seem or feel right, as it’s always better to be safe than sorry.