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A doctor's advice on symptoms you should never ignore

Certain changes in our bodies can be signs of aging or stress, or they can be signs of something much worse. Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith explains what to look for.

PORTLAND, Maine — As we age, there are certain breakdowns of our body that we come to expect. However, there are some seemingly minor symptoms that could be signs of much larger issues. Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith is an internal medicine physician. She walks us through four symptoms you should never ignore.

1. WEAKNESS ON ONE SIDE OF THE BODY

One symptom you should never ignore is a drooping or weakness on one side of the body because it could be a stroke. A stroke can be devastating and result in loss of physical functions, mental functions like cognition and speech, and even death.

The good news is that a stroke’s consequences can be minimized if the symptoms are recognized quickly. Therefore, it is worth memorizing the mnemonic you can see in the video below, as this will help you better identify the symptoms of a stroke in others and get them the immediate care they require.

2. HEARING LOSS 

Hearing loss is another symptom that many people tend to ignore. Often this is because it can happen gradually, and while annoying, isn’t usually associated with pain.

However, just because a symptom isn’t immediately causing discomfort does not mean that you can safely pretend it’s not there. Indeed, statistics show that people with hearing loss are much more likely to suffer other issues, such as being involved in falls or accidents. Probably because of a reduced awareness of their environment and surroundings.

Also, as there are many effective treatments for hearing loss, including being fitted for a hearing aid or having excess wax removed from your ears, it would be a shame to leave it untreated. With that in mind, scheduling a hearing test should be at the top of your to-do list.

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3. UNEXPLAINED WEIGHT LOSS 

For many of us, weight loss is almost a contestant goal. After all, we are always hearing about the benefits of lowering our BMIs. However, there is a massive difference between gradually losing weight intentionally and unexplained weight loss.

Indeed, unexplained weight loss can signify much more severe underlying conditions, including diabetes, food intolerance, or even cancer. Therefore it is something that should always be checked out by a medical professional.

4. FEELING HOPELESS 

We all have a bad day from time to time, but if you are struggling to get out of bed on a daily basis or that nothing is bringing you joy, you may have a bigger problem.

Yes, feeling hopeless is one of the many signs of being depressed, along with an increase or decrease in sleep and aptitude. People suffering from depression also often engage in numbing behaviors such as using drugs or alcohol or isolate themselves from their friends and family. Unfortunately, because of this sense of isolation that goes along with depression, not everyone gets the essential treatment they so desperately need.

Indeed, depression, just like a myriad of other mental illnesses, is a treatable condition and not a sign of weakness in the sufferer. To that end, if you are struggling with the symptoms of depression, reach out to a mental health hotline or see your doctor ASAP.

RELATED: Do these four things to age gracefully

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith is an international expert on mind-body-spirit connection, and has written Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity.

To take Dr. Dalton-Smith's rest quiz, click here