Warning Signs Your Body is Sending You, Say Doctors

After the COVID pandemic turned many of us into amateur epidemiologists—constantly searching for the latest information on the most protective face masks and exposure risk at the gym—we're all glad to be getting back to basics. But that process should involve focusing on your overall health. It's important to resume regular checkups and routine screenings, and to remember what symptoms justify prompt medical attention. Experts say these are some of the serious warning signs your body may be sending you. Read on to find out what they are, and what to do about them—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.

1

This Kind of Chest Pain

Woman lying in bed at home holding a hand to her chest by a sharp pain

Chest pain should never be ignored, particularly chest pain that lasts for more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back. That's the kind of pain that's most often associated with a heart attack, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The discomfort may feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or straightforward pain. It warrants an immediate call to 911.

RELATED: The #1 Cause of Heart Attack, According to Science

2

Shortness of Breath

Young man having asthma attack at home

Over the past year, shortness of breath has been frequently discussed as a potential symptom of COVID-19. If you're having serious trouble breathing, it deserves emergency attention, and the coronavirus may not be the only culprit. Breathing difficulties can also indicate a heart problem, says the National Institutes of Health. When the heart is having trouble pumping blood throughout the body, fluid can back up in the veins traveling from the heart to the lungs and eventually into the lungs themselves.

3

Swelling

Tired woman touching her ankle, suffering from leg pain because of uncomfortable shoes, feet pain wear high heel shoes

If you notice swelling in your feet or ankles, your body may be warning you about poor circulation. That could be caused by a blood clot, heart failure, liver disease, or a kidney disorder. These conditions can cause fluid to build up in your extremities, causing them to swell. "Sometimes, swelling in the feet is the first clue that you have heart failure or liver or kidney disease, and your doctor needs to consider those possibilities," says Harvard Medical School.

4

Erectile Dysfunction

Sad man sitting on a bed, girlfriend in the background.

ED is not a natural part of getting older, and you shouldn't just "learn to live with it." In fact, erectile dysfunction could be an early sign of several serious health issues that prevent your arteries from pumping blood as well as they should. The same blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to your heart and brain deliver blood to the penis, causing an erection. When those vessels aren't working well, you may have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke. It's always a good idea to consult with a healthcare provider if you're experiencing ED.

RELATED: 5 Ways to Prevent Dementia, Says Dr. Sanjay Gupta

5

Bloating

young woman with stomach pain

That uncomfortable overstuffed feeling in your belly might be due to gas pressure or something you ate that didn't agree with you. But women should be especially alert to recurrent bloating: It is one of the most common early signs of ovarian cancer. "Take note if it seems constant, doesn't come and go, and can't be explained by occasionally eating gas-producing foods," says MD Anderson Cancer Center. If you've been bloated for weeks and the condition doesn't go away, tell your doctor. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

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