These everyday complaints can herald serious illnesses

These everyday complaints can herald serious illnesses

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Small health problems sometimes indicate serious illnesses

Are you no longer enjoying sex? Do you piss yourself when you laugh? Or are you becoming more and more forgetful? Smaller complaints in everyday life are often simply accepted or attributed to aging. A renowned medical doctor warns that such complaints can announce major health problems years in advance.

Professor Dr. Alicia Ines Arbaje is a medical doctor at the American Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The health expert points out that many small complaints can be understood as an early warning. Instead of accepting these ailments, it is often better to tackle them.

Early warnings should be heeded

"Our bodies are intelligent - they warn us of major health problems years in advance," reports Dr. Arbaje. Often it is initially small complaints that make themselves felt early on. Instead of taking action, these ailments are accepted and often develop into more serious diseases over time. The doctor presents five typical complaints that are often delayed.

When something goes wrong when you laugh

A lighter form of urinary incontinence is common in women. Especially when laughing, sneezing or lifting heavy objects, it can happen that the urine cannot be held. A sudden urge to urinate, which can hardly be restrained, is not uncommon.

Urinary incontinence as a warning for diseases

But urinary incontinence not only affects the quality of life, it can also be a sign of a health condition in need of treatment, emphasizes Dr. Urinary incontinence could indicate a urinary tract infection, arthritis or a problem with the pelvic floor muscles. Incontinence could also be a side effect of certain medications.

What can you do?

It becomes particularly worrying when incontinence determines everyday life and those affected only stay at home. "Communicate with your doctor," advises the doctor. Arbaje says lifestyle changes and proper pelvic floor exercises can help reduce or even stop incontinence.

Bowel problems

Do you have hard, dry bowel movements and empty your bowels less than three times a week? Constipation is uncomfortable and painful. "They can cause hemorrhoids and other complications, some of which are very serious," said the professor. Especially when there is blood in the stool.

Constipation can be a sign of an underlying disease

Constipation and other digestive problems can be signs of irritable bowel syndrome, according to Arbaje. It could also be based on a diet with too little fiber and fluid. At worst, constipations with bloody stools indicate colon cancer.

"Talk to your doctor about how often you use the toilet," advises Dr. In case of doubt, a stool sample can provide more precise information about whether something should be done to support the intestine.

Sexual problems

Do you have pain during sexual intercourse, erection problems or a low sexual desire? "Sexual problems can affect your closest relationship day by day and thus the quality of your own life," reports the expert. "You are never too old to enjoy a satisfying sex life."

Sexual problems can also be a signal for existing diseases. For example, such symptoms can occur with depression, diabetes, circulatory disorders or with low hormone levels. Sexual disorders are also side effects of some medications.

Medical advice should be sought for sexual complaints

Even if it is difficult - talk to your doctor about the problem. "Specifically describe whether the problem has to do with low desire, pain or erection problems during sex - or all of these problems," recommends the doctor.

Depression and mood swings

You may feel energetic, irritable and not interested in activities that you normally enjoy? Or do you suffer from anorexia and sleep problems? Depression makes everyday life difficult. Nutrition is often neglected. Constant irritability is a sign of excessive stress, Arbaje warns.

Depression is usually easy to treat. Either through medication and / or through therapy. Even with high stress, there are targeted methods for reducing stress, such as yoga, progressive muscle relaxation or autogenic training. A doctor can also take the right steps here. "Explain how you have been feeling recently and describe what you or your relatives noticed about your mood," advises Dr. Arbaje.

Memory problems

Having trouble remembering names, dates, and other facts? Or do you find it difficult to find the right words? Do you often forget what you wanted to do next? Many people have more gaps in their memory as they get older, most of which are normal. However, if such failures occur frequently and impair independence, an illness can be the reason.

In addition to dementia, mental disorders such as depression or sleep problems can also be considered. "Describe the type of problems you have with your thinking and memory - your doctor can use a simple test to determine whether your cognitive deficits are in need of treatment," said Dr. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Johns Hopkins Medicine: 5 “Little” Health Issues That May Be Bigger Than You Think (accessed: February 4, 2020),

Video: Wired, Tired, and Stressed? How Your HPA Axis Could be Key to Optimal Health with Dr. Zandra Palma (September 2022).


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