Diabetes. Ovarian cancer. Stroke. These serious medical conditions can stop a woman in her tracks.
The three sudden warning signs associated with diabetes, ovarian cancer and stroke may seem unusual and are often overlooked. Commit them to memory, and you’ll gain a leg up on how to detect potentially major health problems.
Sudden Warning Sign #1
Your Breath Smells Like Nail Polish Remover = Possible Symptom of Diabetes
Over 80 million Americans suffer from diabetes. Disturbingly, almost one-third of Americans living with diabetes are unaware they have it.
The sudden warning sign of one’s breath smelling like nail polish remover occurs when your body is unable to utilize sugar properly, and burns fat for fuel instead. The chemical compounds released during this process are known as ketones. The ketone, acetone – a key ingredient in nail polish remover – produces the telltale diabetes warning sign of fruity-smelling breath.
You may also experience a fruity taste in your mouth that persists even after you’ve brushed your teeth. Referred to medically as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), this symptom can result in a diabetic coma if left untreated.
Additional warning signs of diabetes include:
- Frequent thirst and urination
- Craving sweets
If you experience acetone-scented breath or any other warning signs linked to diabetes, schedule an appointment with your physician. You’ll likely be asked to fast for at least 8 hours beforehand so the doctor can check your blood sugar level via a simple blood test. Bear in mind, a healthy fasting blood sugar level is between 70 and 100mg/dl; a reading over 200mg/dl may signal diabetes.
While type 1 diabetes is managed with insulin injection therapy, type 2 diabetes treatment often includes lifestyle changes such as new diet and exercise regimens.
- Maintain a healthy weight. A healthy female Body Mass Index (BMI) should be less than 35. Use this tool to measure your body mass index.
- Eat a healthy diet that includes fiber from whole grains, lean protein, and plenty fruits and vegetables. Avoid processed foods loaded with sugar and trans fats.
- Exercise regularly. Get at least 20 minutes of cardio three times a week by brisk walking, biking, or using an elliptical trainer.
Sudden Warning Sign #2
Growth of Coarse Chin or Nose Hair = Possible Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer – the fifth most common cancer in women – is known as a silent killer, which is why it’s imperative for every woman to be aware of all its warning signs.
Located on either side of the uterus, the ovaries’ primary function is to produce eggs and pump out female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone that regulate the menstrual cycle. An ovarian tumor or cancer of the ovary can cause overproduction of male hormones (androgens). Too much production of the male hormone testosterone, for instance, can cause excessive facial hair, also known as hirsutism, which can manifest as coarse growth on the chin or in the nose.
Additional warning signs of ovarian cancer include:
- Noticeable bloating and weight gain around the abdomen, or increased abdominal size
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- A change in bowel movements
- Difficultly eating or feeling full quickly
- Frequent or urgent need to urinate
- Back pain
If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment right away with your gynecologist. They will perform an abdominal exam and possibly order an ultrasound to look at the ovaries, among other possible tests. If ovarian cancer is suspected or found, you will be referred to a gynecologic oncologist. Use this ovarian cancer symptom tracker to help you detect the early warning signs of ovarian cancer
To ward off ovarian cancer, studies show that certain foods such as cruciferous vegetables (collard greens, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts) could reduce your risk. Get a full list of foods that fight ovarian cancer.
Sudden Warning Sign #3
Split Vision = Possible Warning Sign of Stroke
A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery, or a blood vessel breaks, cutting off blood supply to the brain. Strokes kill over 5 million people worldwide each year, and 1 occurs every 40 seconds in the United States alone.
Strokes can cause many different symptoms, including slurred speech or difficulty walking. Experiencing “split vision” in each eye – a lesser know symptom – can also occur. In this case, you have only half of a field of vision in each eye. For instance, if you were looking at a stop sign, you may only see the O and the P, while the S and T remain invisible.
This occurrence may last for only several minutes until vision is restored, but it still indicates that the visual cortex in the back of the brain has been impacted by loss of blood flow. A CT scan or MRI would reveal that this part of the brain controlling your vision experienced a cut off in its blood supply. Mini strokes may present themselves this way and are often a precursor to a major stroke.
One of the most important things to do if you think you’re having a stroke is to remember the acronym
F-A-S-T – and also act fast!
- Vision disturbance
- Uneven smile
- Facial droop/numbness
A: Arms & Legs
- Difficulty walking
- Inappropriate words
- Time is critical
- Call 911
Unfortunately, not all hospitals are well equipped to handle stroke victims. Do your homework in advance and find a stroke center near you. Visit StrokeCenter.org for more information.
To help reduce your risk of stroke, research shows that a diet chockfull of fruits and vegetables with white flesh can help. Try mushrooms, cauliflower and white peaches. In addition, taking 2 low-dose 81mg aspirin once a day before bedtime may help reduce your chance of developing blood clots.