9 Warning Signs That Indicate You Might Have an Underlying Health Condition

July 14, 2020 Updated: July 14, 2020

There are certain times in our lives where we get so busy that it can be all too easy for subtle warning signs in our bodies to go unnoticed. An unusual craving for salt, intense dreams, or falling asleep at your desk, for example, could be your body’s way of telling you there’s an underlying health condition that needs your attention immediately.

So what do you need to look out for? The following are nine ways that your body could be telling you to stop, take notice, and make a change for better health and well-being.

1. Acting Out With Aggression

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While anger is a normal emotion, outbursts of aggression could indicate an underlying, untreated depression.

In a 1998 psychiatric study, researchers found that one-third of surveyed patients diagnosed with depression also experienced sudden outbursts of anger. Treatment with antidepressants such as fluoxetine, sertraline, and imipramine diminished the anger attacks by up to 71 percent.

2. Sleeping During the Day

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We all indulge in “duvet days” from time to time, but excessive sleeping, otherwise known as hypersomnia, could be an early warning sign of an autoimmune disease such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

In a 2006 study, neuroscientist Dr. Yves Dauvilliers also identified “behaviorally induced insufficient sleep syndrome” in people who failed to get enough sleep for at least three months. This syndrome, said Dauvilliers, is increasingly prevalent in western society because of the mounting stress of everyday life.

3. Intense Dreams

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Intense, vivid dreams, characterized by thrashing about during sleep, could be a symptom of Parkinson’s disease or another neurodegenerative condition. Referred to by doctors as “REM behavioral disorder,” it is more common in males with Parkinson’s disease than in females.

The American Parkinson Disease Association asserts that sleep disturbances respond well to treatments that promote the release of dopamine. Whatever the underlying cause of your sleep disturbance, it’s advisable to talk to a physician to get to the root cause.

4. Changes in Eye Color

A gray or white arc visible around the iris of the eye is common in older adults. However, when it occurs in adults younger than 45 years of age, it could be an indication of high cholesterol.

If high cholesterol runs in the family, this gray-white arc may also be associated with an increased risk of heart disease, according to Mayo Clinic.

5. A Feeling of Pins and Needles in the Legs

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The sensation of itching, aching, throbbing, or pins and needles in the legs, especially at bedtime, could indicate restless leg syndrome. This syndrome is usually accompanied by a powerful urge to move the legs to make the uncomfortable sensations go away. The syndrome can range from mild to vulnerable.

The cause of the restless leg syndrome is unknown, but it may be exacerbated by lifestyle factors such as smoking or a lack of exercise. It affects up to 10 percent of people in the United States, according to Web MD, but people with the condition respond well to treatment after a correct diagnosis.

6. Thickened, Itchy Skin

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Unless you have a known allergy, thickened, itchy skin may indicate eczema, an irritating but treatable skin condition.

Neurodermatitis, the most common form of eczema, affects roughly 12 percent of the population, explains the National Eczema Association. While scratching the skin may feel like the best cure, a better course of action is to see a friendly physician for tailored treatment.

 7. A Craving for Salty Food

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While the average American diet is already quite salty, an acute salt craving could mean there might be some trouble approaching. Craving salt, according to Healthline, could indicate dehydration, an electrolyte imbalance, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), pregnancy, or high-stress levels.

As the first port of call, the best remedy is to drink water and plenty of it. If symptoms persist, try seeking out medical advice.

8. Craving Ice

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Craving and chewing ice, a phenomenon known as “pagophagia,” is often associated with iron deficiency, with or without anemia. Studies suggest that the function of chewing ice might be to increase alertness in people with iron deficiency anemia, notes Mayo Clinic.

Less commonly, an emotional issue such as acute stress may cause a person to crave and chew ice.

9. Insatiable Thirst

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The American Diabetes Association warns that feeling insatiably thirsty if accompanied by other symptoms such as hunger despite eating, extreme fatigue, blurry vision, weight loss, or numbness in the extremities, may indicate Type 1 diabetes.

If you experience any combination of these symptoms, visit a physician; early detection and treatment of diabetes can hugely decrease the risk of complications.

Stay alert to these subtle warning signs your body is giving you and stay on top of optimal health.

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