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Major Illness Warning Signs

It is better to prevent an illness than to get it. The next best thing is to detect and treat an illness early.




Heart Attack



When cancer first develops, there may be no pain or other signs. That’s why screening tests are important. As different types of cancers grow, warning signs may be present. These signs may be due to problems other than cancer, too. See your doctor to find out. In many cases, the sooner cancer is found and treated, the better the chances for a full recovery.

One in three people who have diabetes do not know they have it. See your doctor if you have one or more of the signs listed below.

Signs of Diabetes:

• Frequent urination

• Excessive thirst

• Extreme hunger

• Unusual weight loss

• Increased fatigue

• Irritability

• Blurry vision

In type 1 diabetes, symptoms tend to come on quickly. With this type, the body either makes no insulin or only very small amounts.


In type 2 diabetes, symptoms tend to come on more slowly. The body does not make enough insulin or can’t use it the right way. This type most often occurs in persons who are over age 40, are overweight, and who don’t exercise.


Pre-diabetes occurs before type 2 diabetes. Getting diagnosed and treated for this can keep you from getting type 2 diabetes.


Diabetes can be present without symptoms. Follow your doctor’s advice to screen for diabetes. Early detection and treatment lower the chances of diabetes complications.

Image of a glucose machine.
Image of a man experiencing chest pain.

Heart Attack Warning Signs

If heart attack warning signs occur, call 9-1-1 or your local rescue squad right away!


See your doctor if you have one or more of these signs and symptoms:

•  Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. The discomfort feels like pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain.

•  Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. This can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms or in the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.

•  Shortness of breath. Often, this comes with chest discomfort. But it can also come before the chest discomfort.

•  Other symptoms. These can include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or being lightheaded.

The most common heart attack symptom for both men and women is chest pain or discomfort. But women are more likely than men to have some of the other common signs, especially shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

Lupus is an immune system disorder. It can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, and nervous system.

Warning signs of lupus:

•  Joints ache and swell for more than 3 months.

•  Fingers get pale, numb, or ache in the cold temperatures.

•  Mouth sores last for more than 2 weeks.

•  Blood tests show: Anemia; low white cell count, or low platelet count; and/or protein in the urine.

•  A rash occurs across the nose and cheeks. It lasts for more than 1 month.

•  Skin rash (not sunburn) occurs after being in the sun.

•  Pain lasts for more than 2 days when taking deep breaths.

•  A seizure or convulsion occurs.

Let your doctor know if you have or have had any of these warning signs. Having 3 or more of these signs may suggest lupus.

Image of nurse talking to a patient.
Image of a women holding the temples of her head.

Stroke Warning Signs

•  Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body

•  Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding

•  Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

•  Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

•  Sudden severe headache with no known cause

If stroke warning signs occur, call 9-1-1 or your local rescue squad right away!

This website is not meant to substitute for expert medical advice or treatment. Follow your doctor’s or health care provider’s advice if it differs from what is given in this guide.


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