As a family physician, I encourage people to get regular check-ups at least once a year to ensure their health is in top form. If you ever have concerns about your health, then it’s suggested that you always book an appointment with your family physician as soon as possible. However, there are certain warning signs that you absolutely shouldn’t ignore or wait to have looked into when it comes to your health. While certain warning signs could be the result of something minor, others may be an indicator that there is something serious going on with your health that may require urgent attention.

When it comes to aches and pains, we’ve all experienced them. However, once those aches and pains become chronic in nature and start to have a significant impact on your ability to carry out your daily activities, then it becomes a problem. So just how do you tell the difference between the average aches and pains, and pain that has become chronic? The answer to that is if it lasts more than 12 weeks. Average aches and pains should also never majorly limit your ability to live your life. Chronic pain comes in many different forms – it can be biological or neurological – and includes everything from chronic headaches and migraines, fibromyalgia, and more. If you are experiencing pain that is severe and frequent, do not sit and suffer. Instead, it’s important to see your physician to begin to narrow down any potential causes, as well as help in finding appropriate relief.

If you’re eating healthy and getting regular exercise, you will likely notice your weight begin to decrease. You may also notice improved energy levels. However, any weight loss that is unintentional or rapid in nature – especially if it’s between 10 and 15 pounds – should be looked into as it could be a sign that something is seriously wrong with your health. Common causes of unintentional or rapid weight loss includes celiac disease, thyroid disease (such as hyperthyroidism), infections such as HIV, hepatitis C, and even cancer.

Sleep can also be problematic. While many people don’t get near enough sleep these days and would love to have too much sleep being one of their problems, excessive sleep could actually be a sign that something else is going on with you health-wise – and not in a good way. It could be a sign of chronic inflammation, Multiple Sclerosis, and even depression. You may also have something known as narcolepsy – a condition that causes excessive sleepiness or uncontrollable and intermittent episodes of falling asleep, which can occur at any time during the day. On average, individuals should get anywhere from 8 to 9 hours of sleep each day.

If you notice any skin changes – particularly with moles that change in size, shape or colour, then you should address this with your family physician. If the changes are significant, you may also need to see a dermatologist to help determine the cause. Changes in moles may be a sign of skin cancer, which is a type of cancer that individuals do not get screened for nearly enough.

If you’re having chest discomfort that is severe or persisting (including pain, pinching, burning, tightness, pressure, and even heartburn), do not just shrug this off. Chest pain is one of the most common signs of a potential heart problem, including blocked arteries as well as heart attack – which will also occur with other symptoms such as nausea, light-headedness or dizziness, fatigue, cold sweat, and shortness of breath. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call 911 as it could be a matter of life or death.