7 Pains You Should Never Ignore

These common aches could very well be nothing. Or something far, far worse.

1. Your foot hurts

It could be a slipped disc… Assuming it’s not caused by dropping a dumbbell on your foot, “a herniated or prolapsed disc can produce a sharp pain in your foot,” says Dr Laubscher, director of The Back Clinic in the UK. “The pain is usually worse in the morning and aggravated by sitting. It’s commonly missed as a disc problem because there’s no back pain.” But it won’t go away. “Left unchecked, it will put pressure on the sciatic nerve, which can lead to loss of bladder function and invalidity.”
Act Now. “Lie on your stomach and do 10 cobra poses (arching your back up and slowly straightening your arms, but keeping your hips on the floor),” says Dr Laubscher. If the pain eases, you probably have a slipped disc since these extensions relieve the pressure. “Do cobra poses every hour until you can get to a physiotherapist.”

2. Your Back Hurts

It could be a kidney stone… You feel a sharp pain between your ribs and hip but “because it’s often inconsistent, you may put it down to excessive lifting at first,” says Dr Sneh Khemka from Bupa Medical in the UK. “One in 10 men get kidney stones,” says Dr Khemka. “Left untreated, they can block urine flow, making your kidney swell. The pain can get so severe it’s been described as the closest a man can get to childbirth,” says Dr Khemka. Which is a little too much empathy for any man to experience.
Act Now. “If the pain returns or moves into your groin, see your GP as soon as possible,” says Dr Khemka. Types of treatment vary from noninvasive sound waves to having a tube inserted into somewhere sensitive. You can keep stones at bay with 45 minutes of cardio three times a week, according to a study featured in Internet-based publication Medical News Today. “You should also drink 2.5 litres of water a day to prevent stones,” says Dr Khemka.

3. Your Leg Hurts

It could be heart disease… ““Leg pain when you’re walking or running is a common symptom of cardiovascular disease,” says Dr James Stanley of the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Centre. “If the pain stops when you stop, but gets worse when carrying weight or when you’re walking fast, then it’s probably a warning that you’re at high risk of heart attack or stroke as the arteries supplying the lower limbs narrow.”
Act Now. If you’re getting leg aches and particularly if your father had heart problems, have your GP check your cholesterol and blood pressure. You may be asked to go for an ankle brachial index to measure blood pressure in your legs.

4. You have diarrhoea

It could be an overactive thyroid… The tear-jerking tryst with your U-bend is bad enough, but one in 50 of us will suffer the very worst of this hormonal malfunction. Left untreated, the form that most commonly affects young men – Graves’ disease – can debilitate muscles and cause serious hair loss. “It can also lead to severe vision problems,” says Dr Mark Vanderpump, a consultant endocrinologist. “Symptoms include chronic bouts of diarrhoea along with dramatic weight loss despite having a healthy appetite.”
Act Now. Maybe those oysters didn’t taste right, but “if diarrhoea lasts several days, coupled with poor sleep or intolerance of heat, it’s likely you have a thyroid problem, so see your GP for blood tests,” says Dr Vanderpump.

5. You have erectile dysfunction

It could be Parkinson’s… As if going soft wasn’t already hard to swallow, Harvard research recently found that men who suffered from erectile dysfunction were almost four times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease later in life.
Act Now. There’s no known way to prevent the disease, though recent research by US neurologists at the Mayo clinic suggests that developing drugs which mimic a protective gene variation could be the key. Don’t panic, though. While a Singapore Medical Journal study in 2003 found that 51.3 per cent of local men reported some degree of erectile dysfunction, it’s more likely caused by stress, smoking, alcohol or injury rather than Parkinson’s.

6. You have neck/shoulder pain

It could be Lyme disease… Aching joints curtailing your gym session? Throbbing headache? Had some al fresco loving? Maybe it was just a very good night, but maybe you haven’t noticed a pencil-point size tick that’s latched onto you. “It’s very difficult to spot, so many cases of Lyme disease are only reported when serious symptoms set in,” explains Dr David Owen, who specialises in researching the disease. Climate changes will increase the risk of tick-borne diseases such as Lyme. If you get bitten, you could face meningitis, facial palsy and severe arthritis.
Act Now. Along with headaches and muscular aches, look for red lesions. “If you get a bite, avoid squeezing the tick’s body and cleanse any skin break with antiseptic,” says Dr Owen. “It’s difficult to diagnose, so if possible, remove the tick and keep it in a container, and label the date and place on your body where you found the tick. It will help your doctor with his diagnosis.” Lyme disease is usually treated with antibiotics.

7. You have bad breath

It could be lung disease… Don’t just blame it on last night’s garlic, bad breath could signal a host of problems that Clorets cannot fix. “Lung disease, asthma and cystic fibrosis all cause highly acidic breath,” says University of Virginia researcher Dr John Hunt. “And the more acidic the breath, the more severe the condition.” The US Dental Association found that while 90 per cent of cases of bad breath were down to hygiene and gums, the other 10 per cent were linked to systematic infections like lung disease, abscesses and even liver failure.
Act Now. Rule out likely causes such as dry mouth, sinus infection, gum disease and smoking by visiting your dentist. “They can also spot signs of mouth cancer,” says Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation. “Early detection increases your survival chances from 50 per cent to 90 per cent.” If the dentist suspects your breath may have a “deeper” cause – like lung disease – they’ll refer you to your GP who’ll send you for tests to measure its acidity. And if you get the all clear, it’s time you visit the nearest Clorets retailer.

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