3 Symptoms Women Over 40 Should Never Ignore

It’s easy to brush them off, but pay attention. It could save your life.

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Every year thousands of women lose their lives to diseases that in most cases are completely preventable. Why? Because we all lead busy lives and ignore subtle symptoms that can be harbingers of serious diseases such as stroke, colon cancer, and diabetes, often waiting until it is too late to survive them.

You don’t have to be one of these women. Learn how to tap into your best early warning system for 3 of the most dangerous diseases out there. And do one more thing: pass this on to the other women in your life.

1. Difficulty Finding Words

Before you roll your eyes and think back to every “senior moment,” you’ve had in the last week alone, pay attention to the subtle ways this symptom can be a warning sign for a stroke.

Common problems are confusing one set of words for another, such as saying “blue coat” instead of “red jacket” or difficulty recalling certain words for objects or people. These lapses in communication within your brain can be symptoms of mini-strokes that are often precursors to a more serious event. Signs that you may be having (or have had) a major stroke include numbness and paralysis on one side of your body. Another giveaway is if someone has a lopsided smile, indicating that the muscles on one side of their face are not working properly.

What You Should Do

If you notice subtle symptoms such as word confusion or loss, get to your doctor as soon as possible. He or she will do an MRI to look for any tissue death due to lack of oxygen and can put you on a stroke prevention regime to make sure symptoms don’t continue or worsen. If you notice more serious symptoms, such as numbness or paralysis on one side of your body, call 911 immediately. Treatment within the first 3 hours of a major stroke can save your life and dramatically increase your chances for a full recovery.

2. Bloating

Few women are strangers to this uncomfortable feeling; it often signals the arrival of your period or indigestion. But what can seem like an everyday nuisance can actually be a very important warning sign for colon cancer.

What You Should Do

If you have made dietary changes to improve bloating or are not menstruating and have continued bloating, contact your gynecologist. They will rule out the possibility that your ovaries are involved and will send you to a gastroenterologist who can look for colon cancer. Be especially vigilant if you have a family history of the disease. Be on the lookout for other symptoms such as blood in your stool or severe cramping that lasts for a few days.

3. Lack of Sex Drive

There are many reasons sex doesn’t always sound good, but a consistently low libido can be an important indicator of early diabetes.  High blood sugar causes arteries to grow sticky over time and become prone to clotting. This can cause a loss of blood flow, which is critical to sex drive and sexual function.

What You Should Do

Don’t chalk up lack of interest in sex to being busy or tired, pay attention to it, and, if it persists, talk to your doctor.