Don’t Ignore These Subtle Warning Signs

We’re all apt to try to reassure ourselves when we’re feeling just a little off. Usually it’s the right call.

But there are some cases when more action is warranted to make sure there isn’t an underlying cause that needs to be addressed before it begins to seriously damage your health:

  • Shortness of breath — You’re more likely to experience this after strenuous exercise in higher altitudes as you’ll find here or farther north in Arizona, but if you’re noticing this after mild activity, or especially if it comes on suddenly, it needs to be addressed to rule out asthma or other lung diseases, heart failure or related conditions, anxiety or other causes.
  • Feeling full without eating much — When you have a meal and realize you’re “filling up” noticeably more quickly than normal, notice whether it happens again and whether you’re having other digestive problems. Early satiety can be an indicator of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), gastroparesis (slow emptying of stomach), ulcers or gastric cancer.
  • Unexplained weight loss — It’s generally very easy to gain weight and very difficult to lose it, so if you’re noticing that it seems to be dropping off your frame without you really trying, you’d better ask your physician about it. This could be tied to hypothyroidism, diabetes, nutrient deficiencies and cancer.
  • Changes in bowel movements — The spectrum of what “passes” for a normal one is for each of us far and wide, but if you see something that you’re not used to it could be of concern, and you should definitely seek care if you see any black, tarry or bloody stools or experience persistent stomach pain, constipation or diarrhea. Potential culprits include infection, irritable bowel disorders or colon cancer.
  • Persistent fever — A low fever that won’t go away, or any fever at 103 degrees or more, could be signifying any number of infections, including this winter’s “tripledemic” of COVID, flu and RSV, bacterial infections like strep throat and UTIs and even some chronic illnesses such as diabetes and autoimmune disorders.