Can You Match the Disease From Its Early Symptoms?


By: Maria Trimarchi

7 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Do you fancy yourself an amateur doctor? Do you practically live on WebMD? Take this quiz to see if you can match these 35 diseases to their early symptoms.

One of the primary keys to beating a serious, or not so serious, disease is to catch it early. But many of the symptoms of diseases tend to either be not very bothersome or mimic other, not serious diseases. For instance, some cancers can manifest themselves early on as fatigue and body ache - much like the flu. Not many of us will go to the doctor for symptoms of the flu. 

Regardless of the symptom, it makes sense to see your primary care physician if you are feeling unwell for an extended length of time, or if the symptoms you are experiencing are not normal for you. You know your body better than anyone else. Listen to it.

So, is there a difference between the early symptoms of a cold and the flu? Well, although there is some debate, colds don't typically come with fevers. So, if you are stuffy and achy, but you don't have a fever, you probably have a common cold. A virus causes it, and it will usually go away on its own. If you are stuffy and achy, but you have a fever, too, you might have the flu. See your doctor.

Let's find out how many of these symptoms you can match to their diseases.

Which disease has subtle warning signs that include constant thirst, more frequent bathroom breaks and blurry vision?

Early signs and symptoms of this disease can be so mild you may not even notice them. But if you've noticed you're much thirstier than normal, your vision doesn't seem as good as it was and you can't explain recent weight loss or gain, you may be at the early states of diabetes.


Which condition's early symptoms can include shortness of breath, coughing and swollen ankles?

Some early symptoms of heart disease can be so subtle that you aren't diagnosed until after you've had a stroke or are in heart failure. But never overlook symptoms that have to do with fluid accumulation, like coughing or wheezing, swollen ankles and weight gain -- they can be warning signs.


What might be wrong if you find your arm is numb, you're slurring your speech and your smile is drooping on one side?

Time very much matters when it comes to stroke, and the faster you recognize the symptoms the better chance you have for preventing permanent brain damage. Any weakness, numbness, like "pins and needles," or trouble speaking are all warning signs and symptoms of a stroke.


In addition to memory problems, frequent falls and an inability to recognize sarcasm are be early signs of which disease?

Memory problems can significantly affect a person's life -- but while it's the hallmark of Alzheimer's, it's not the only sign of dementia. Frequent falling, unfocused staring and even the inability to recognize sarcasm can all be early warning.


If you wake up with a cough, fever and muscle aches, you probably have which illness?

Flu symptoms typically come on quickly, and can include congestion and cough, fever, headache, muscle aches and sore throat. Fevers aren't symptoms of a cold, so if you wake up feeling achy, with a cough and fever, it's likely flu.


You thought you were finally kicking the cold you had, but now your fever is back, and it's high, you're coughing, clammy and have shaking chills. What are these signs of?

There's more than one type of pneumonia, and it can be a complication of a cold or flu you have, but the early signs are often similar. Pneumonias cause a high fever, upwards of 105 degrees F, and can cause coughing, clamminess, and shaking chills -- among other symptoms.


Which disease can cause bubbly urine, swollen ankles and puffiness around your eyes?

More than 30 million adults in the U.S. have it, but don't know it. The early stages of kidney disease can be subtle, like foamy urine -- and they don't necessarily seem to involve your kidneys: symptoms can include dry, itchy skin; trouble sleeping; puffiness around the eyes; and swollen ankles.


If you're experiencing recent low back pain, spending more than usual and a feeling of utter despair, what might be wrong?

Depression may not always look like debilitating sadness and despair, although those are, indeed, symptoms of the mental illness. It may also cause physical symptoms like low back pain, stomachaches and headaches, or changes in mood like being grumpy or angry. You may find yourself overspending, and you may also notice you've loosened up a lot on your hygiene.


Although tremors are a classic symptom, which disease also causes loss of sense of smell, stiffness and a monotone voice?

It can be easy to miss the early symptoms of this neurodegenerative disorder -- even doctors have trouble, sometimes. Typically a slight tremor in, say, a finger or your hand while at rest, is a classic symptom of Parkinson's disease. But that's not the only symptom. You may also find some seemingly unrelated changes, including changes to your handwriting, a change in or loss of sense of smell, stiffness, a monotone voice, and a blank facial expression (even when you're expressing emotion).


What's it known as when you lack the enzyme to properly digest cow's milk, resulting in bloating and diarrhea?

When your body loses the ability to break down a natural sugar known as lactose, which is common in dairy products, you are lactose intolerant -- and as many as three-quarters of us are. Symptoms, including cramps and diarrhea, as well as bloating, stomach pain and excessive gas, typically start about between 30 minutes and 2 hours after consuming dairy products -- and it can take between 10 days to 3 weeks for your body to eliminate the milk protein from your system


Which condition, a type of arthritis, is known to cause sudden and intense pain in your big toe?

Gout, also known as gouty arthritis, is a painful condition that generally strikes suddenly, without warning and often at night. It most frequently appears as intense pain in the large joint of your big toe, but could also flare up in the joints of your ankles, knees, hands or wrists.


Which condition is known to cause a chronic, productive cough, with increased breathlessness?

It's estimated as many as 12 million Americans are living with undiagnosed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease -- because it's not always easy to spot the signs of this progressive lung disease. One of the first symptoms is a chronic cough, as well as an increased amount of phlegm. You may also find you're more tired and breathless than usual when you're out and about.


Which chronic condition causes symptoms including diarrhea or constipation, bloating, cramping and mucus in your stool?

Irritable bowel syndrome, commonly known as just IBS, affects the large intestine. Early signs and symptoms are usually gastrointestinal in nature, including cramping, bloating, abdominal pain and gas, as well as constipation or diarrhea -- sometimes with mucus in the stool.


If you snore loudly and frequently, you may have which condition?

Common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include snoring, although not all those who snore have the condition. You may also wake with a morning headache, a dry mouth or sore throat, and the feeling you didn't get a very restful sleep.


A butterfly-shaped rash across your cheeks and bridge of your nose is one of the most common early signs of which autoimmune disease?

Lupus, short for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), is an autoimmune disease with symptoms that are known to mimic other illnesses, including diabetes, fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, rheumatoid arthritis and a number of other blood, heart, lung, muscle and bone diseases. Lupus, though, has a hallmark sign: a butterfly-shaped rash that spreads across your cheeks and nose.


Which condition causes a sudden sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, and small red spots on the roof of your mouth?

Symptoms of strep throat typically come on quickly. In addition to a sore throat and red, swollen tonsils, symptoms typically include a fever, swollen lymph nodes in your neck, as well as small red spots, called petechiae, on the roof of your mouth.


Which condition is often responsible for causing cloudy vision as well as a sensitivity to light and poor night vision?

It's estimated that about 1 our of 6 Americans over the age of 40 have cataracts. They are preventable but are common as we age, and some of the very first signs they're developing on your eye lenses include cloudy vision, "halos" around lights, poor night vision and faded colors.


Which condition causes your heart to feel as though it's fluttering?

Atrial fibrillation, or Afib, is a heart condition that causes your heart's lower chambers to contract faster than normal, and that means your heart isn't pumping enough blood throughout your body. You may have an irregular heartbeat, like your heart is fluttering or has skipped a beat, as well as dizziness and fatigue.


Which condition can cause yawning, neck stiffness and food cravings before any pain begins?

More than half of people who get migraines report symptoms before the pain begins. It's called the "prodome" phase, and can include more frequent yawning, along with restlessness, neck stiffness, fatigue and food cravings.


Which of these conditions is known to cause yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes?

Cirrhosis is a liver disease that causes irreversible scarring of the liver, plus a loss of liver cells. The disease can be confirmed with lab tests and a biopsy, but early signs often include a loss of appetite, itchiness, easy bruising, and jaundice.


Which condition, an autoimmune disorder, most often begins with stiffness in one or more joints?

Women are two to three times more likely to be diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, which most often begins with stiffness and tenderness in one or more joints -- especially in the morning. Fatigue, malaise and depression are also common early symptoms.


A sign of which of these diseases is hyperpigmentation, where your skin gets darker?

Addison's disease, also known as primary adrenal insufficiency, is caused by failure of the adrenal glands. It develops over several months, or more, and while loss of appetite, fatigue and weakness are common symptoms, hyperpigmentation -- which causes a darkening of your skin, is a unique sign that something's up.


Which digestive disorder may begin with occasional heartburn?

In its early stages, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause occasional heartburn. Symptoms such as burning in the throat, chronic cough and hoarseness, as well as regurgitation, tend to occur after GERD's been left untreated and damage has happened to the muscles where the esophagus meets the stomach.


Sharp, stabbing chest pain when you breathe deeply is the most common symptom of which condition?

Coughing, fever and chills are symptoms, but it's a sharp, stabbing chest pain -- and sometimes in your shoulder, too -- when you breathe in that's a classic sign of pleurisy. Most often, pleurisy is caused by a bacterial infection, such as pneumonia.


You may not have any symptoms when which infection attacks the immune system?

During the first stage of human immunodeficiency virus, HIV, most people have no symptoms. But about a month after infection, between 40 to 90 percent of people mild flu-like symptoms, including fever, night sweats and rash -- these symptoms subside, but at this time the virus is able to be spread to others. Symptoms may not appear -- or re-appear -- for months, years or maybe a decade. AIDS, which is short for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, is the final stage of the infection, at which point the body is no longer able to fight off infection.


Which condition can leave you feeling cold, tired and constipated?

Hypothyroidism happens when your thyroid gland isn't producing enough thyroid hormone. Because your thyroid controls the rate of many things in your body, such as how fast your heart beats and how fast you burn calories, an underactive gland can cause weight gain, fatigue and cold intolerance, among other symptoms.


Which condition is a type of arthritis that causes your vertebrae to grow together?

It's pronounced ank-kih-low-sing spon-dill-eye-tiss, or just AS. This type of arthritis affects the spine, primarily. The first sign is typically inflammation -- pain and stiffness -- where your lower spine joins with your pelvis. Over time, AS can cause your spine's bones, known as vertebrae, to fuse together, which limits your mobility.


Which disabling disease has unpredictable symptoms, but commonly causes numbness in your arms, legs, or face, as well as excessive fatigue in its early stage?

Although no two people will have the same symptoms, the most commonly reported early symptoms of multiple sclerosis include overwhelming fatigue in addition to numbness in the arms, legs, face or body.


Which viral infection often causes fever, muscle aches, and a general feeling of being unwell before its hallmark painful blisters emerge?

If you've had the chickenpox, you can get shingles -- and if you do, it probably won't be until decades later. Shingles is caused by the same virus as chickenpox. But after your chickenpox cleared up, that virus, the varicella-zoster virus, went dormant in your body. If it reactivates, it can cause a painful, blistering and highly contagious rash. The rash, however, isn't the first sign. Typically, a few days before the rash, pain or tingling occurs in the region where the blisters will appear, there may be fever, and an overall feeling of being unwell.


Angina, better known as chest pain, is the most common warning sign of which condition?

It's the most common type of heart disease among Americans, and the leading cause of death among both men and women in the U.S. Coronary artery disease (CAD) happens when cholesterol-containing deposits, called plaque, build up in your arteries. Plaque narrows the coronary arteries, which decreases the amount of blood flowing to your heart. It can take decades to develop, but the most common warning sign is angina -- which is chest pain that may feel tight, heavy, or like a squeeze.


Which neurological disease often begins with a muscle twitch or muscle weakness that's easy to overlook?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a progressive disease that affects your nervous system. Early symptoms, like muscle twitches and muscle weakness, are easily overlooked -- until it becomes difficult to speak, eat or move.


Which of these life-threatening conditions often causes feelings that something bad is about to happen, before it happens?

Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction. Exposure to an allergen -- one you may not even know about -- causes your immune system to flood your body with chemicals. And that, in turn, causes your blood pressure to drop suddenly and your airways to narrow (which makes it difficult to breathe). Symptoms appear suddenly, but there are a few early warning signs, usually mild, including runny nose, skin rash, and a feeling that something bad is going to happen.


Which condition typically has no obvious warning signs, living up to its nickname of "the silent killer"?

High blood pressure, known as hypertension, often doesn't have any obvious symptoms or early warning signs. In fact, you may find out you have it by accident, or at your physical. However, severely high blood pressure does have symptoms, including nosebleeds, confusion and blurred vision. Blood pressure of 180/120 mm Hg or higher is dangerous, and considered a hypertensive crisis -- and that's a medical emergency.


Early signs of which virus, spread by mosquitoes, includes red eyes and joint pain?

About 1 out of 5 people infected with Zika virus become ill. The first signs appear within two weeks of infection, and include fever, rash, red eyes or joint pain -- and the infection typically lasts between one to three weeks.


Known as the Black Death when it swept through 14th-century Europe, which disease causes painful, swollen lymph nodes along with a sudden fever?

Infectious flea bites are the common cause behind bubonic plague, which is caused by a bacteria known as Yersinia pestis. Plague's onset is fast, with a sudden fever, chills, headache and at least one swollen, painful lymph node.


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