Skip to content

Signs Your Health Issue is Actually "Something Serious"

Being alert to the early signs of a serious health problem is crucial.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

No one wants to think about having a health emergency. At the same time, being alert to the early signs of a serious health problem is crucial to prompt treatment and a positive outcome. Symptoms of serious health conditions can be vague, but some are more urgent than others. These are some of the most common signs that your recent health issue might actually be something serious. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Memory Loss

Close up of mature woman look in distance thinking.

Occasional memory lapses are a normal part of aging. We all forget where we've put our keys or phone from time to time. But when memory loss gets in the way of everyday life, it may indicate the development of dementia. People with dementia may have trouble retracing steps to find lost items. They may also have difficulty with short-term memory, forgetting new information or names of people they've just met, what they're doing in the moment, or daily tasks.


Changes in Bowel Habits

Door knob on or off the bathroom

Changes in bowel habits can be inconvenient and uncomfortable. They can also be a sign of colon cancer. If you're experiencing an increase in diarrhea, constipation, bloating, or a feeling of incomplete emptying, it should be reported to your doctor ASAP.


Frequent Urination or Increased Thirst

Close-up of pretty young woman drinking water from glass

Frequent urination is one of the most common signs of diabetes, which is caused by chronically high blood sugar. The body tries to flush out the excess sugar through more frequent urination. That can leave you dehydrated, which can result in increased thirst. If you find yourself going to the restroom more often than is usual for you, or if you're drinking more water but not feeling sated, those are red flags that warrant further examination.




Doctors consider certain types of bleeding more indicative of cancer than others. These include blood in your stool, abnormal vaginal bleeding, coughing up blood, or blood in the urine. These signs can all be caused by other conditions other than cancer, but it's a good idea to consult your doctor if you experience them.


Unexplained Weight Loss

weight loss

Losing weight without trying might sound great, but it can be a sign of cancer. About 40 percent of people with cancer experience unexplained weight loss as an early symptom. This could signify cancer of the esophagus, liver, colon and pancreas, as well as leukemia or lymphoma, especially if it's accompanied by loss of appetite or changes in bowel habits. It should always be reported to your doctor right away.


Frequent Coughing

Young woman sitting alone on her sofa at home and coughing.

In most cases, a persistent cough is a sign of a cold or virus. Coughing can also be a result of seasonal allergies. But a cough that lasts for more than a few weeks can be a sign of lung cancer. Any cough (or shortness of breath) that persists for more than a few weeks should be evaluated by a physician. 

And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael
Filed Under