Damage to your teeth
“I often get referrals from dentists with patients who don’t feel heartburn or other reflux symptoms, but their teeth enamel is completely worn down,” says Evan Dellon, MD, a gastrointestinal (GI) specialist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Many are shocked to learn they have acid reflux. While sugary drinks wear down teeth at the front of your mouth, acid from your esophagus tends to dissolve enamel of the teeth at the back. Other subtle but suspicious symptoms of reflux include a persistent sore throat, coughing, unexplained wheezing, or a frequent foul taste in your mouth. If you or your dentist notices any of these warning signs, see a GI specialist promptly. Untreated reflux not only leads to tooth decay but can also increase your risk for esophageal cancer. Beware of these everyday mistakes that ruin your teeth.
Itchy, blistery skin rash
Gabrielle Revere for Reader's Digest
This reaction, which breaks out on the elbows, knees, butt, back, or scalp, may look suspiciously like eczema, but it could be a more serious issue: celiac disease, an autoimmune condition in which ingesting even the tiniest amount of gluten causes your body to attack its own intestines. Up to 25 percent of people with celiac have this rash, known as dermatitis herpetiformis. Many patients have no digestive symptoms. When someone with celiac consumes gluten, the body releases an antibody known as IgA, which attacks the intestines; sometimes IgA also collects in small blood vessels underneath the skin, triggering the telltale rash. Unlike people with other forms of celiac, patients with dermatitis herpetiformis don’t have to undergo an endoscopic biopsy for a definitive diagnosis. A doctor can biopsy the rash and look for antibodies that indicate celiac. Once you start a gluten-free diet, the rash should disappear, and you’ll protect your body from other long-term, serious damage of celiac disease, such as osteoporosis or small intestine cancer. Your skin can reveal these surprising signs of disease, too.
Bowel or bladder changes
Peeing more or less than usual could indicate bladder or prostate cancer. Constipation or diarrhea may signal colon or ovarian cancer. You may attribute gassiness or bloating to your diet, but talk to your doctor if it lasts more than a week. Here are more sneaky colon cancer symptoms you shouldn’t ignore.