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5 Health Concerns Too Many Women Ignore

A young female doctor listening
Image: lenetstan/Shutterstock

As women, we lead busy lives. Between responsibilities at work and families to care for, it’s understandable that our to-do lists contain only the most absolutely necessary items. That nagging health problem is annoying, but finding a day off to get to the doctor for a checkup just sounds like too big a hassle, so you push it to the back burner. But this “out of sight, out of mind” attitude can sometimes have dangerous consequences. Here are some of the health concerns you should take seriously enough to make an appointment with your doctor.
Sudden Weight Loss
Weight loss is difficult when it’s something you’re trying to achieve, so shouldn’t it be a good thing if you suddenly start dropping weight without any effort? Losing weight without even trying can happen if you’re under a lot of stress, and that makes you lose your appetite. However, it can also be a very serious sign of health problems ranging from Celiac disease to cancer, so check with your doctor before celebrating how easily you can fit into those smaller jeans.
Extreme Fatigue
Being tired is unfortunately common for many adults, but there’s a difference between the sleepiness that means you need to get to bed an hour earlier and overwhelming fatigue that affects your whole body and makes you feel like you could sleep for days. Unless you’re regularly pulling all-nighters, extreme fatigue can be a sign of many possible medical problems, ranging from hypothyroidism to sleep apnea to multiple sclerosis or heart disease.
Bloody or Black Stools
Aside from being a bit embarrassing to talk about, bloody or black stools are never a good sign because they mean that you are bleeding somewhere in your intestinal tract. A one-time occurrence could be attributed to harmless conditions, like something you ate, but when it happens more frequently, it could be a sign of inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis or ulcers. Some of these conditions are manageable by changing your diet, but can lead to vitamin deficiencies and anemia if left untreated.
Irregular Bleeding
It’s normal for your menstrual cycle to get a bit wonky as you get older and closer to menopause. But you definitely need to check with a doctor if you’re younger and your menstrual cycle is always irregular. Extremely heavy bleeding can be a sign of endometriosis or uterine fibroids and can put you at greater risk of anemia. Menstrual cycles spaced far apart can be a sign of polycystic ovarian syndrome, which puts you at greater risk of developing diabetes.
Shortness of Breath
Climbing a couple flights of stairs might make you feel a bit out of breath if you’re out of shape, but you should recover quickly. If you get exceptionally winded by light activity and find it difficult to catch your breath again, you should definitely see a doctor. Extreme shortness of breath could be an early sign of lung problems or even a warning sign of an impending heart attack. Being unable to breathe well is never normal and it can be a very serious symptom, especially if you also have dizziness or chest pain.

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