Let’s all be honest ladies— we’re not exactly known for prioritizing our own health, now are we? Moms everywhere are famous for powering through when they get sick, maybe popping a pain killer while attending to everybody else’s needs. While it’s understandable, we should all do a better job of taking care of ourselves, and that means paying attention to symptoms we’ve been likely to ignore. According to Reader’s Digest, seemingly simple symptoms can actually be early warning signs of cancer. Here are some of the most common.
No, you shouldn’t panic every time-of-the-month, but if the bloating persists even after your period is over, it could be a sign of ovarian or uterine cancer. Constant constipation and feeling full even when you don’t eat can mean the same thing. If you’ve experienced these symptoms for a few weeks, see your doctor.
- Chronic coughing
We’ve all had those coughs that just wouldn’t go away, and we’ve all tried to ignore it. Let’s stop doing it! Lung cancer and leukemia can both masquerade as colds, allergies, and bronchitis, so if a cough is hanging around for three or more weeks, get it checked out. Even if it isn’t cancer, you could still use medical help!
- Difficulty swallowing
Like the bloating or a cough, if you have a sore throat or difficulty swallowing for weeks on end, it could be a sign of stomach or lung cancer.
- Sudden weight loss
It might be exciting to be suddenly skinny, but we should be suspicious of any weight loss we haven’t really “earned.” Your body usually won’t shed weight suddenly unless there’s something wrong, and weight loss is a common sign of most cancers, especially leukemia and lymphoma. You should especially see a doctor if you’re losing weight despite keeping your usual appetite.
- Persistent fatigue
It’s basically a trend nowadays to complain about being tired, but we’re not actually supposed to feel this way! If you still feel fatigued even after a night or two of solid sleep, or if you’re tired every day for about a month, see your doctor. It’s a common sign of lymphoma and leukemia.
- Chronic headaches
As with sleepiness, this symptom is one we accept as normal even though we shouldn’t. Your head is not supposed to hurt you! Having to self-medicate a pounding headache everyday could actually be a sign of a brain tumor.
- Mouth sores and pain
Our mouths are the germiest parts of our bodies, so of course we’re going to get sores from time to time. It’s if they never heal or go away that it’s a problem. See your doctor if you have persistent sores, pain, jaw-swelling, or anything that’s unusual.
While we don’t want to encourage hypochondria, it’s important to pay attention to our bodies and the signs they give us. Early detection is one of the most important weapons against cancer, and these symptoms are some of the first signs. If you have them – or any of the others on Reader’s Digest’s list – don’t freak out or hurry to self-diagnose, but do go see a trusted doctor to be sure.