Minor Ache or Major Problem? 6 Symptoms Exercisers Should Pay Attention To
Symptom: Unintentional Weight Loss
Scenario: Although your routine hasn't changed, suddenly the pounds are dropping off.
Your downplay: I've broken through a plateau. Woo-hoo!
Doctors' double-take: However welcome, "unexplained dramatic weight loss is unusual and cause for concern," warns Steve Rosenbaum, MD, an assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. One serious possibility is diabetes. In the United States, 11.5 million women over age 20 have types 1 and 2, but about a quarter of them don't know it yet. Because we've heard so much about how weight gain leads to the disease, you may not know that weight loss is also a symptom. Your body, unable to convert food into energy, begins to use up its stores of fat. Along with that weight loss, though, comes the risk of diabetic coma or even death.
What to do: There are predisposing factors, like being overweight and having a family history of the illness, that make you more likely to develop diabetes, but anyone can get it. So if you notice a steady, unexplained drop of 10 to 20 pounds or 10 percent of your weight over a period of six to eight weeks, check in with your doctor. If you've also been unusually hungry or thirsty, if you suddenly feel exhausted all the time, or if you constantly have to pee, she'll want to do a fasting blood test or a hemoglobin A1c test to determine whether you have diabetes. If you do, you'll be put on a plan, including a healthy diet, regular exercise, and possibly medication, to help you control your condition.
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