Normally when you get sick, it’s obvious. You’ll know that you have a cold because of things like a runny nose, a cough, or a headache. These symptoms, like a beeping metal detector, are a sign of something going on underneath the surface of your body. But not all diseases are so readily apparent.
Asymptomatic diseases—those without symptoms—can be insidious and, in some cases, deadly. Because they don’t telegraph their existence, they can grow over time, undetected. Here are a few such medical conditions and what you can do if you think you might have one.
1. Get Tested
Sexual intercourse can be a wonderful and enriching experience. It’s also important to remember there are also serious risks involved. If you and your partner aren’t careful, it’s possible that you might contract a sexually transmitted infection. While STIs might seem simple to identify, that’s not always the case. There are some people for whom symptoms won’t appear for a while, if ever.
Symptoms of genital herpes, for example, usually appear within five to seven days of infection. However, some people may not show symptoms for years. The same is true of other STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and more. So what do you do if you think that you might have an STI?
The only way to know for sure if you have one is to get tested. A doctor will take a urine sample, genital swab, or blood sample depending on the disease you’re being tested for. If the results of your test come back positive, you can discuss potential treatments with your healthcare provider. There are more ways to treat STIs today than ever before. You can even treat genital herpes at home, for example.
Americans seldom discuss STIs publicly, but these infections are more common than you might think. So don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed, as many others out there are in a similar position. Do, however, prioritize getting tested. It’s the first step toward getting the treatment you need.
Catch It Early
Cancer is an insidious disease that is prevalent worldwide. And as with STIs, it can take a long time before cancer symptoms show. Unfortunately, once they do arise, it usually indicates that the cancer has reached a more deadly state.
While you can’t necessarily prevent cancer, you can reduce your risk of an advanced case with regular check-ups and screenings. If a screening comes back positive, there are different options you may want to consider. The most common forms of cancer treatment are surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
You may actually be lucky if your doctor recommends surgery. This means your cancer is likely in an early and highly localized state. With surgery, it may be possible to remove the cancer entirely.
Radiation therapy is somewhat similar to surgery. It focuses x-rays or other radioactive particles on cancerous cells to destroy them. This kind of treatment can be used in conjunction with other kinds of treatments as well.
Chemotherapy can be challenging to undergo. It is a type of treatment that employs one or more anti-cancer drugs, usually over the course of three to six months. The side effects (nausea, weight and hair loss, etc.) can be harsh, but they are worth enduring if the treatment is successful.
When it comes to cancer, it is best to scan early and regularly. If you do have cancer, one of the most important things you can do is to form a support group of friends and family. There will undoubtedly be challenging times ahead, but you can face them head-on with loved ones by your side.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has altered what it means to live in a globalized society. It has made people wary of others, since there are many people who are infected but remain asymptomatic. Unlike cancer, which is noninfectious, and STIs, which can only infect through intimate physical contact, COVID spreads via airborne particles. This means that asymptomatic people can easily pose a significant risk to others without even knowing it.
Even if you follow social distancing best practices, it is unfortunately still possible to get COVID. Of course, there is the risk of contracting current variants. However, as variants evolve, the safety provided by preexisting prevention methods may come into question. So if you suspect you have COVID, the best way to know is, once again, to get tested.
Contact a local testing site, which can conduct a test at no or low cost. Alternatively, the federal government will send your household up to eight free tests through the U.S. Postal Service. You can also purchase over-the-counter tests at your local pharmacy or order them online.
There is still much we don’t know about COVID-19. It affects some people more than others, both in intensity and duration. Others are asymptomatic entirely. If you do test positive, consult your healthcare provider to determine what the best treatment options are for you.
Fighting Back Against Disease
No matter what disease you may have or be testing for, just remember that you are not alone. There are millions upon millions of other people all over the world who are facing similar struggles. If you think you have a serious medical condition, it’s important to build a caring network you can rely on. Having people close to you will help you work through whatever testing and procedures you decide to undergo. Hopefully, it will give you the support you need to find your way back to health.