13 Warning Signs of Poor Health

by Ahmed Zayed, MD on May 26, 2020

There are very few people who like going to the doctor, or their dentist, for that matter. But sometimes, visiting your doctor is more of a necessity. Whenever you are feeling some sensation, symptom, or issue that seems to be unable to go away on its own, it is time to head straight to your doctor’s office, without doing much of thinking first. 

But when exactly is that considered to be a necessity? To make things easier for you, we have prepared some vital information about 13 different symptoms and signs that require medical attention and even point out to be a medical emergency! If you have been experiencing any of these symptoms, it is time to contact your doctor right away, and we will explain to you why that is.

13 Symptoms that you should never ignore


  • Numbness and tingling sensations in the arms and/or legs


Numbness and tingling are sensations that can appear in any part of your body. In most cases, however, patients report feeling numbness and tingling sensations located in their arms and/or legs. Not only are these sensations quite uncomfortable and can easily disturb your everyday life, but they are also often a cause for concern, especially when there is no obvious cause that could explain their presence.

For numbness, the list of potential causes includes damage, irritation, and/or compression of the nerves, whether that is one single nerve or several nerves being affected (1). As for tingling, – this symptom is linked to circulation issues and diseases (2). Many causes can potentially explain the presence of numbness and tingling in the arms and/or legs. 

Most often, tingling and numbness are caused by a herniated disk in the back or carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist. Certain diseases can also be the cause of these strange sensations, including diabetes, multiple sclerosis, brain tumor, stroke, anemia, and kidney disease, among others (3).

If tingling is the only symptom that you have been experiencing lately, you probably can wait a while until you get this checked out. But if the tingling sensation persists for more than an hour and is accompanied by numbness or other symptoms such as dizziness and nausea, do ask for immediate medical help.


  • Dizziness


We say that we are feeling dizzy whenever we are feeling lightheaded, faint, woozy, weak, and/or unsteady. Dizziness is one of the most common causes as to why adults ask for medical help nowadays. This symptom can be caused by disturbances in the brain, in the gastrointestinal system, or the inner ear. 

High blood pressure, low blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid issues, dehydration, heart issues, anemia, and migraines are all potential causes of dizziness. Dizziness can also occur as a side-effect due to the use of certain medications, especially anti-seizure drugs, antidepressants, tranquilizers, etc. (4).

If you are feeling dizzy but also experiencing numbness and tingling sensations in the extremities, double vision, seizures, chest pain, difficulty breathing, and/or rapid heartbeat, seek medical help right away.


  • Excessive body hair growth


Hirsutism refers to excessive body hair growth on body parts where there is minimal or absent hair (5). This symptom is caused by a hormonal disbalance with higher than normal testosterone levels. It is a common sign of an underlying medical issue such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), Cushing syndrome, and tumors in the ovaries or adrenal glands. Some medications can also lead to extensive body hair growth as well, such as the use of minoxidil, which is used to treat endometriosis (6).

If you happen to find hair sprouting where there should not be any, do consult a doctor. This is especially important for any woman that experiences abnormal hair growth on the face, chest, stomach, and nipples as this can be a sign of PCOS, which left untreated can lead to infertility.


  • Swelling


Whenever anybody part, such as the skin or the internal organs becomes enlarged, swelling develops. The swelling usually results due to present inflammation or fluid buildup in the body. A range of different health issues can be the cause of the swelling. 

Poor circulation is often the most common cause of swelling, especially around the feet and ankles. Swelling can also be an indication of a blood clot or edema – both of which are potentially life-threatening conditions that require immediate medical attention. Infection, a skin rash, and injury can also explain the present swelling (7, 8).

Menstruation, insect bites, and pregnancy are considered to be low-risk causes of swelling. However, if you notice your swollen ankles or persistent swelling that cannot be explained by the low-risk causes, contact a doctor as soon as possible. Swelling can easily be a sign of kidney failure, heart failure, and a severe allergic reaction.


  • Frequent bloating


Gas or air filling up the gastrointestinal system will result in bloating. We all have had our share of feeling bloated and uncomfortable at least once in our lifetime. For many women, bloating is a normal part of their everyday life whenever they are on their period. But if the period does not explain to you feeling frequently tight, full, and swollen in the abdominal area, then what does?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease, heartburn, food intolerance, eating disorders, stress, and the use of certain medications could all explain why you have persistently been feeling bloated (9). Although probably not a medical emergency, frequent bloating should still not be easily ignored.


  • Unexplained weight changes


Unexplained weight gain or weight loss can easily be a reason for concern, especially when you have not changed your eating habits and have not been diagnosed with any health issue that could explain the unintentional weight loss or weight gain. If you have not made any efforts to lose weight and notice an unintentional weight loss taking place, that can be your body telling you that something serious is going on. The same rule applies to unintentional weight gain.

Malnutrition, diabetes, and illness can be the cause of unexplained weight loss. Cancer, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism are the most common reasons as to why you have been losing weight without even trying (10). As for unintentional weight gain, the list of probable causes includes hypothyroidism, PCOS, heart failure, kidney problems, ovarian cancer, etc. (11). Make a mental note to visit your doctor as soon as possible if you notice any unexplained change once you set on the weight scale.


  • Erectile dysfunction


Erectile dysfunction refers to the inability to achieve and maintain an erection during sexual intercourse. Many men have had their experience with erectile dysfunction from time to time – an event that is considered to be normal. But if you experience erectile dysfunction on a day-to-day basis, do not ignore it. 

Many physical, but also psychological issues can contribute to the occurrence of erectile dysfunction. Heart disease, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, metabolic syndrome, etc. are all possible physical explanations behind erectile dysfunction (12).

On the other hand, depression, anxiety, stress, and other mental health issues are the potential psychological issues that can cause erectile dysfunction. Whether your erectile dysfunction has been caused by a physical or an underlying psychological issue, or a combination of the two, do not simply ignore it, hoping that it would pass. 


  • Chest pain


Chest pain is probably the most obvious symptom that you should never ignore. Of course, it does not always scream medical emergencies like, for example, when you experience it after eating some spicy food. If chest pain has been caused by heartburn or indigestion, it can go unreported. 

But if you feel severe chest pain, especially one that has been spreading to the arms, back, neck, or jaw, and is accompanied by sweating, and shortness of breath, make sure to dial 911 because the chances are that you are experiencing a heart attack. Other causes include anxiety, panic attack, chest infection, pneumonia, chest strain, etc. (13).


  • Intense and frequent toothache


Perhaps you have sensitive teeth, and you are used to feeling some toothache from time to time. However, intense and frequent toothache books you an appointment to see your dentist – the sooner, the better. 

A severe toothache can be caused by an infection in the tooth or in the gums that surround it. It can also be caused by inflammation of the tooth and exposure of the tooth’s nerves. If detected in time, most of these issues are easily solved. To prevent such issues in the future, visit your dentist every six months or so to get your teeth checked up and take good care of your teeth and mouth in the meantime. As for now, call your dentist to make this throbbing toothache stop.


  • Excessive sweating


Everyone experiences increased sweating during the hot summer days and nights. But if you notice that you sweat too much even in cooler weather, do not simply ignore it. Not to worry – you are certainly not the only one experiencing this issue since about 4.8 percent of the Americans have been dealing with excessive sweating daily (14).

If you are struggling with excessive sweating, the chances are that your genes are the ones to blame, as science explains. Up to 30 to 50 percent of the people who experience excessive sweating have a family history of this issue (15).

Excessive sweating can also be triggered by several health issues. Heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, hypothyroidism, stroke, cancer, and infectious disease are all potential underlying medical causes for excessive sweating. Maybe this is not an emergency case, but it sure deserves a doctor’s consultation.


  • Sudden, intense headaches


We all have experienced a troubling headache as a result of stress or emotional distress. But for some headaches, such as those that occur suddenly and are highly intense, there may be more to their occurrence. 

Many serious health issues can cause sudden, intense headaches to disturb your everyday life. From meningitis, aneurysm, and even cardiac cephalgia, these are all possible health issues that require medical attention as soon as possible as they are highly dangerous and potentially life-threatening.


  • Tearing sensation in the back


Doing an extreme workout at the gym may earn you a muscle strain – one that will trouble you in the days to come. But if you have not done any recent physical activity and still experience a tearing sensation, it is time to visit your physician. 

That tearing sensation that you have been experiencing may be caused by a ruptured aorta. In such a case, you will feel a sudden, stabbing pain in the back. If the tearing sensation persists for longer than 20 minutes and is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and dizziness, contact your doctor right away.


  • Frequent urination


Feeling the urge to urinate more often than usual can disrupt your everyday routine, sleep schedule, and be a sign of a medical emergency. Frequent urination is described as the need to pass urine more than seven times a day in a period of 24 hours while drinking no more than 2 liters per day (16).

The most common explanations for frequent urination are urinary bladder issues, pregnancy, diabetes, and prostate gland problems. The list of less common ones includes stroke, urinary tract infections, bladder cancer, urinary incontinence, overactive bladder syndrome (OBS), and others. Pay a visit to your doctor, if not for the sake of good night’s sleep, then at least to make sure that there is no serious health issue causing you to frequently urinate.


We do not say that you should be in your doctor’s office day after day, as you are to determine what is a medical emergency and what can be treated with an ice pack, a hot shower, or an over-the-counter pain medication. But how can you possibly do that? 

With the help of the information that we have shared with you today, of course. As you can see, we have mentioned 13 signs and symptoms that are not to be ignored at any time. Such are chest pain, persistent dizziness, excessive sweating, and frequent urination, among others. Do not endanger your life; ask for help in time, and you shall receive it!


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2280620/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29096941
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/numbness-and-tingling
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2696792/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2856356/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18844710
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK53445/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23939641
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3264926/
  10. https://www.healthline.com/health/unexplained-weight-loss
  11. https://www.healthline.com/health/weight-gain-unintentional
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16156420
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16342831
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5099353/
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC543948/
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK291/

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