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First Signs You Have a Serious Illness, Say Experts

Knowing these initial warning signs can save your life.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Doctors say knowing the warning signs of a serious disease, like heart disease, can save your life, as every minute counts. That's why we collated the first signs of diabetes, Alzheimer's, cancer, heart disease and, of course, COVID-19, and collected them here in one easy place. Click through each and give them a read; it takes just minutes, and as we've just said, every minute counts—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.

1

First Signs of Diabetes You Need to Know

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"The following symptoms of diabetes are typical. However, some people with diabetes have symptoms so mild that they go unnoticed," says the American Diabetes Association

  • "Urinating often
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Feeling very hungry—even though you are eating
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Weight loss—even though you are eating more (type 1)
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)"

If you experience these, call your doctor.

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2

First Signs of Alzheimer's You Need to Know

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"Generally, the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease are divided into 3 main stages. In the early stages, the main symptom of Alzheimer's disease is memory lapses. For example, someone with early Alzheimer's disease may," says the NHS:

  • "forget about recent conversations or events
  • misplace items
  • forget the names of places and objects
  • have trouble thinking of the right word
  • ask questions repetitively
  • show poor judgement or find it harder to make decisions
  • become less flexible and more hesitant to try new things

There are often signs of mood changes, such as increasing anxiety or agitation, or periods of confusion."

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3

First Signs of Cancer You Need to Know

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"Most signs and symptoms are not caused by cancer but can be caused by other things. If you have any signs and symptoms that don't go away or get worse, you should see a doctor to find out what's causing them. If cancer is not the cause, a doctor can help figure out what the cause is and treat it, if needed," says the American Cancer Society. "For instance, lymph nodes are part of the body's immune system and help capture harmful substances in the body. Normal lymph nodes are tiny and can be hard to find. But when there's infection, inflammation, or cancer, the nodes can get larger. Those near the body's surface can get big enough to feel with your fingers, and some can even be seen as swelling or a lump under the skin. One reason lymph nodes may swell is if cancer gets trapped there. So, if you have unusual swelling or a lump, you should see your doctor to figure out what's going on.

Here are some of the more common signs and symptoms that may be caused by cancer. However, any of these can be caused by other problems as well.

  • Fatigue or extreme tiredness that doesn't get better with rest.
  • Weight loss or gain of 10 pounds or more for no known reason
  • Eating problems such as not feeling hungry, trouble swallowing, belly pain, or nausea and vomiting
  • Swelling or lumps anywhere in the body
  • Thickening or lump in the breast or other part of the body
  • Pain, especially new or with no known reason, that doesn't go away or gets worse
  • Skin changes such as a lump that bleeds or turns scaly, a new mole or a change in a mole, a sore that does not heal, or a yellowish color to the skin or eyes (jaundice).
  • Cough or hoarseness that does not go away
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising for no known reason
  • Change in bowel habits, such as constipation or diarrhea, that doesn't go away or a change in how your stools look
  • Bladder changes such as pain when passing urine, blood in the urine or needing to pass urine more or less often
  • Fever or nights sweats
  • Headaches
  • Vision or hearing problems
  • Mouth changes such as sores, bleeding, pain, or numbness."

RELATED: 13 Ways You're Ruining Your Body After 60, Say Experts

4

First Signs of Heart Disease You Need to Know

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"Heart disease symptoms depend on what type of heart disease you have," says the Mayo Clinic. For example, "a buildup of fatty plaques in your arteries, or atherosclerosis (ath-ur-o-skluh-ROE-sis) can damage your blood vessels and heart. Plaque buildup causes narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke.

Coronary artery disease symptoms may be different for men and women. For instance, men are more likely to have chest pain. Women are more likely to have other signs and symptoms along with chest discomfort, such as shortness of breath, nausea and extreme fatigue.

Signs and symptoms can include:

  • Chest pain, chest tightness, chest pressure and chest discomfort (angina)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in your legs or arms if the blood vessels in those parts of your body are narrowed
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen or back"

RELATED: Sure Signs You're Getting Dementia, According to Science

5

First Signs of COVID You Need to Know

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"Early symptoms reported by some people include fatigue, headache, sore throat or fever," says Johns Hopkins. "Others experience a loss of smell or taste. COVID-19 can cause symptoms that are mild at first, but then become more intense over five to seven days, with worsening cough and shortness of breath. Some people develop pneumonia with COVID-19. The type and severity of first symptoms can vary widely from person to person, and that is why it is very important to call your doctor if you have symptoms, even mild ones." In fact, call your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms on this list. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more
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