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Does being asymptomatic mean we are healthy?

“Why me?” – That is a question we usually ask ourselves when during a very routine medical test/exam we are told that we are not as healthy as we believed ourselves to be. Very often we go through our lives without realising what diseases could be lurking under that skin of ours, even though there are no symptoms. We tend to live in the bubble that if we are not showing any signs, we are mostly healthy. However, many silent illnesses can creep up on us without our knowledge. These could be due to our lifestyle choices or genetic or just plain bad luck.


Often, it is too late when these diseases are diagnosed as they stayed asymptomatic for a long time. There are usually no warning signs, and hence these are difficult to diagnose. Following are some of the diseases that can silently affect your body:

  • Diabetes: Known as the “silent killer” because one does not get any symptoms until it is too late. Many times we ignore the vague symptoms such as excessive thirst, frequent urination, and irritability to environmental or seasonal changes. Mainly, if there has been no family history of diabetes, there could be no warning signs to alert you.
  • Osteoporosis: This condition has no symptoms of its own and is characterised by weak bones, increased risk of bone fracture, and the fragility of the bones in hips, wrist, vertebral column, and ribs. Osteoporosis makes the bones porous and brittle leading to further disabilities.
  • HIV: This disease presents with no specific symptoms in the early stages. Some may come down with is flu-like symptoms four to six weeks later, which can easily be dismissed as seasonal, or an off-chance incident.
  • Pancreatic cancer: One of the deadliest of all the diseases, it does not show any symptoms until it reaches its advanced stage. Even in the advanced stage, one would present with symptoms like jaundice, upper abdominal pain, and unexplained weight loss.
  • Silent heart attack: Also, known as myocardial infarction, this happens when blood supply is interrupted to the parts of the heart. These are asymptomatic and hence called silent heart attacks.
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT): It starts with a blood clot lodged in a vein deep in our body, mostly in legs. It can travel from leg up to the lungs blocking the blood flow to it, which can cause severe organ failures and can be fatal. The symptoms of DVT are very vague such as pain, swelling, or warm sensation in the legs, which are easily dismissible and ignored.
  • Kidney disease: This condition also tends to stay asymptomatic until the damage is extensive. It is most common in diabetic patients, and hence they require regular check-ups to ensure that their kidneys are functioning correctly.

There are many other conditions the symptoms of which could be very negligible and given our hectic lifestyle we may choose to ignore as nothing more than a minor irritant. However, it is vital that we take cognisance of any such symptoms either in ourselves or our near and dear ones and ensure that we do not ignore them.

Here are some tips to follow to ensure that you are not caught by such nasty shocks:

  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle with proper exercise and healthy diet.
  • Avoid alcohol and smoking.
  • Do not ignore any unexpected changes in your body, especially if you feel there is no reason for them to be present.
  • After the age of 30, get regular medical check-ups to ensure that no surprises are lurking in your body.
  • Visit a doctor immediately if you have been ill for a more extended than average time.

Our bodies are very complex work of nature, and we do not know what might be happening with it. Routine medical check-ups can help us avert any such nasty surprises.

Further Reading

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Consult a top General Physician

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  • Medical symptoms without identified pathology: relationship to psychiatric disorders, childhood and adult trauma, and personality traits – Accessed on December 17, 2017 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11346329Heart Disease:
  • How Exercise Can Prevent a Silent Killer – Accessed on December 17, 2017 – https://www.issaonline.edu/blog/index.cfm/2017/heart-disease-how-exercise-can-prevent-a-silent-killer

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