Red Flags

While Old Glory symbolizes the spirit of a nation, flags raised by your body often denote something more physical in nature: illness. Be on alert for these subtle cues that could signify a sinister health threat.

Heart attack/stroke: Coronary episodes don’t always make a flamboyant entrance. A chronic case of indigestion, fatigue… even neck and upper back pain (especially in women) can signify cardiovascular demise. And don’t expect sudden paralysis or slurred speech to be your first indications of stroke. Sometimes dizziness or unexplained numbness can suggest an arterial blood clot.

Diabetes: The CDC estimates that over 6 million people live with undiagnosed diabetes, namely because they don’t recognize the disease’s whispers. Increased urination and thirst, repeated illnesses, or slow-healing wounds are hints. And seemingly nonchalant blurriness can imply a high-sugar pillage of fluid from your lenses.

Cancer: The feeling or need to urinate frequently can be a tip-off to bladder cancer. Abdominal bloating and unexplained weight loss can signal ovarian, stomach, or colorectal cancers. And a simple color change to a nail like a brown stripe down the middle can indicate skin melanoma.

Remember, many of the above symptoms can point to more benign conditions. So be diligent, not paranoid. Respect unusual symptoms, and see your healthcare professional.

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