How to Find the Source of a Mysterious Illness

Headaches, rashes, fatigue, stomach aches, sore muscles and joints—these symptoms and others can be temporary conditions or part of a larger medical problem. How can you tell if you need medical attention? Examining your own medical history and lifestyle may offer you some clues.

Genetic Factors

While DNA can’t tell you everything, some genetic factors can predispose you to certain illnesses. Most families with a history of serious genetic disorders, such as cystic fibrosis or hemophilia, already know to screen for these diseases. But dozens of other conditions ranging from minor annoyances to potentially fatal may have genetic origins. 

High blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and certain kinds of cancer such as breast cancer and colon cancer, are all associated with inherited genetic traits. If you have a family history of genetically-linked conditions, ask your doctor for appropriate tests. 

Look at Environmental Factors

You may not realize it, but your health is significantly affected by environmental factors at work and at home. Poor air quality, chemicals, dusts, molds. and mildews can cause headaches, irritated eyes, rashes, and gastrointestinal problems. If your workplace doesn’t provide you with the protective gear to protect yourself or avoid exposure, be sure to ask.

At home, the best way to eliminate environmental factors that can cause health problems or aggravate existing conditions such as asthma or allergies is by cleaning. You might be able to remove health hazards by cleaning your floor. Cleaning can not only remove dust and allergens, but can also greatly reduce the germs that cause colds and infections.

Consider Your Diet

What you eat can have a significant impact on your health. Many people know about sensitivities to common foods such as dairy, wheat, and soy, but there are a number of ingredients and additives that can also cause problems. For example, monosodium glutamate, or MSG, is known to cause headaches or nausea in some people.

Try eliminating certain foods, one by one, to see if they might be the culprit for your health problem. Otherwise, consult your doctor; allergy and sensitivity tests are available.

If you’re suffering frequent symptoms without an obvious cause, it’s time to investigate. The solution might be as simple as changing your diet or cleaning up environmental irritants. Your doctor will want to know what steps you have taken to identify and deal with your symptoms.

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Simon Greenberg

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