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Most of us can be pretty cavalier about our health. We go along each day believing that bad things don't happen to us, they happen to other people. Every once in a while though, something will happen that wakes us up to the reality of our own mortality. Sometimes it's the death of a loved one and sometimes it's a medical crisis of our own.

Recognizing serious health symptoms can be tricky sometimes. They are not always dramatic. Yet, benign as they may seem, some of these less dramatic symptoms can be indicators of a serious health crisis. It's important for all of us to know what to watch for.

While most of us would recognize severe chest pain as a possible symptom of heart attack, some heart attack symptoms can be easily written off if you're not aware of them. These symptoms can include a tight feeling in the chest, a dull aching feeling in the chest, jaw pain, arm pain usually in the left arm, but sometimes in the right arm. Profuse sweating, a general feeling of being ill, pain in the upper back, nausea, heartburn and shortness of breath can all be indicators of heart attack.

Strokes can also have deceiving symptoms. Often, stroke victims will suffer a series of mini strokes before experiencing one that is severely disabling. Symptoms can include weakness or paralysis on one side of the body, slurred speech, loss of balance, difficulty swallowing, blurry or disturbed vision and possible loss of bowel or bladder control.

Diabetes can also catch you by surprise and go undetected for a very long time. This is dangerous because diabetes can be terribly destructive to all the tissue in the body including vital organs and the eyes. Silent symptoms of diabetes are excessive thirst, hunger of fatigue. Frequent urination, unexplained weight loss and a fruity smell to the breath can also be symptoms of diabetes.

Being aware of your body and what is normal for you is most important. Sudden changes in your health or general condition shouldnÆt be ignored. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should consult your doctor.

+ New or unusual pains in the chest, arms or upper back
+ Shortness of breath for no apparent reason
+ Any pain that comes on suddenly and has no apparent cause
+ Weakness or paralysis in limbs
+ Slurred speech or trouble swallowing
+ Unexplained weight loss or gain
+ Blurred or interrupted vision
+ Severe headaches, fever or nausea that don't respond to self treatment or reoccur frequently
+ Excessive thirst, hunger, fatigue, pain, urination, or sweating
+ Any loss of consciousness or seizure
+ General feeling of malaise or depression that doesn't go away
+ Any signs of blood in the urine, sputum, or feces
+ Cough that doesnÆt resolve with in a few days
+ Cuts or bruises that don't heal
+ Moles that change or are black or irregular in shape

Being aware that we are not immortal and we are all susceptible to sudden and serious illness helps us to identify important changes quickly. That alone can be the difference between a successful recovery, long-term illness or death.