Some illnesses come with obvious symptoms and a trip to the doctor’s office will lead to a quick diagnosis. Other health conditions are more difficult to diagnose. They may come with very few symptoms at first, so they can go unnoticed for a long time.
Sexually Transmitted Infections
The main distinction between an STI and an STD is that an STI does not come with any symptoms, while STDs can. Therefore, unless you get screened or tested, there is virtually no way for you to know if you have an STI. Even an STD can have symptoms that are so mild that you have no idea that you have it. Chlamydia, for example, often do not have any symptoms and about 50% of men who have chlamydia do not know about it. If you are sexually active, then there is a big chance that you have been exposed to chlamydia because it is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases.
You should also consider the possibility that you have been exposed to gonorrhea, another common STI that often causes symptoms that extremely mild. You may think that an asymptomatic infection is not a problem, but you can transmit it someone else who is symptomatic or you can develop symptoms later. Therefore, it is important to get screened if you are sexually active.
Heart disease includes a variety of health concerns, including heart failure, stiff blood vessels, clotted blood vessels, and high blood pressure. Heart disease also puts you at risk for conditions like a heart attack or a stroke. Heart disease can be life threatening and it is the most common cause of death in the United States. The number of people it kills yearly is so high because a typical western diet and the obesity that it often causes can both increase your chances of getting heart disease. The good news is that it is largely preventable if you eat healthy and exercise often. It is a lifestyle disease, which means that living a healthy lifestyle should significantly reduce your risk.
However, even if you think you are safe, heart disease can silently creep up on you. It takes a long time for your blood vessels to clog up enough to the point that it starts causing serious symptoms. Therefore, you might be developing blood clots without realizing it for a very long time. It can take years before you start experiencing some of the symptoms. In fact, many people have no idea they have heart disease until they start noticing the signs of a heart attack.
Cancers and Tumors
Cancer has a reputation for being able to strike anyone at any time. However, this view of cancer is largely untrue. More and more types of cancer are actually pretty preventable with a healthy lifestyle. Still, it is true that, when cancer does strike, it can be very surprising and aggressive if you catch it late. Unfortunately, many types of cancer come without very many symptoms at first, which means it can take a while before you know that you need to seek treatment. Colon cancer, for example, comes with very symptoms until it progresses to the point where it can kill you. Lung cancer is also hard to catch and, about 25% of the time, it is diagnosed by accident when you get a chest x-ray for some condition that has nothing to do with the lung cancer like broken ribs.
Glaucoma is a disease that strikes your eyes. It mostly affects the optic nerve in the back of your retina as a result of fluid buildup. This fluid in your eye can continue to build up for a long time, but you probably will not notice it until your optic nerve starts to become damaged, resulting in vision loss, distorted vision, and blurred vision. Any other type of symptom is incredibly rare and you will probably have little to no symptoms until you slowly start to go blind. Your doctor will probably notice the fluid buildup before it becomes a real problem for your vision. However, if you do not regularly see the doctor, then it could be awhile before you realize that you need treatment for glaucoma.
Unfortunately, the vision loss that glaucoma causes cannot be fully reversed. However, there are measures you can take to potentially restore some of your vision and prevent further vision loss. You can take medication to reduce the pressure that the fluid is causing in your eye. Laser surgery will also work to correct your vision by removing damaged tissue, reducing fluid production, and promoting fluid drainage. You may also have to take some eye drops.
Diabetes occurs when your body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin. Normally, insulin is responsible for reducing your blood sugar levels. It is released by your pancreas and it sends any glucose floating around your bloodstream into the cells in your body that can either use it for energy or store it for later energy use. However, if you have a lot of sugar in your blood, your pancreas and the insulin that it releases might not be strong enough to keep up with your elevated blood glucose levels. As a result, you will eventually develop type II diabetes. However, before the effects of insulin resistance start to cause you experience any symptoms, you may simply have elevated blood sugar levels without knowing about it.
Your elevated blood glucose levels can later cause the organ damage that is associated with diabetes. However, at first, the symptoms are often very limited, mild, or completely nonexistent. In fact, the only real symptom, is high blood sugar. You also might notice that you go to the bathroom a lot or that you are thirstier and hungrier than usual. However, these types of symptoms are easily addressed or ignored without going to a doctor. Therefore, it can a long time before you realize that you have diabetes.
There are many serious diseases that do not cause many symptoms. Without frequent checkups, it is possible for diseases to develop and progress without you knowing about it until the diseases have caused significant damage. Even with a good doctor, you should make sure that you live a healthy lifestyle to reduce your chances of getting diseases that can affect you very quietly.