If you’ve had a persistent cough, a stomach bug that just won’t go away, or frequent headaches, it might take you awhile before you get in touch with your doctor. However, here, we’re going to look at nine symptoms that should never be ignored, what they could be a sign of, and what to do if you or someone you love experiences them.
Unexplained shortness of breath
If you suddenly find yourself having trouble catching your breath, or having trouble breathing at all, without any rational explanation such as exercise, you should look for help immediately. This can be a symptom of major health issues, including heart attacks, strokes, lung infections, blood clots, asthma, and more. Improving your healthy living standards can help you reduce the risk of many of these conditions, but shortness of breath, known as dyspnea, shouldn’t be ignored even if you do live a healthy lifestyle.
Upper abdominal pain or pressure
One of the issues with feeling pain or tightness in your chest is that it can be caused by a range of issues. It could be caused by musculoskeletal pressure or by something as simple as a momentary case of acid reflux. However, it is also one of the first signs of a heart attack, especially if accompanied by symptoms like lightheadedness, shortness of breath, or dizziness. If you have experienced these symptoms in the past, but they have receded, it’s worth taking a look as you may be having angina attacks which can lead to a heart attack down the line.
Sudden and intense headaches
People will often refer to a thunderclap headache as the worst and most painful headache they have ever experienced. It’s characterized as a headache that doesn’t come gradually, but rather is immediately intense and highly painful. This is not a symptom that should be ignored, even if it goes away. There are some benign causes, but these headaches have also been linked to sudden bleeds in the brain, so it’s crucial to make sure that you have it checked out as soon as possible.
Severe tooth pain
Tooth pain always feels serious, given how literally in your face it is. However, many people will ignore early symptoms of serious issues that can result in not only lost teeth, but tooth infections that can potentially become life-threatening when not treated seriously enough. If you are in pain that is consistent and severe, then you should get in touch with your dentist immediately. If you begin to experience symptoms of infection, such as shivering and nausea, you should go straight to the emergency room.
Floaters in your eyes
Seeing sudden floaters or spots in your vision that last for some time is not known to be a symptom of any potentially fatal condition. However, when not treated quickly enough, it could result in profound and permanent vision loss, and even complete blindness. Floaters are sometimes a symptom of retinal detachment, inflammation in the eye, or a retinal tear. Tears and detachments pose the greatest risk of vision loss, so it’s important to arrange an emergency appointment with your optometrist as soon as possible. There’s every chance the floater might be benign and insignificant, but that is not a chance worth taking with your vision on the line.
Episodes of fainting or dizziness
Sudden dizziness, fainting, and weakness are another class of symptoms that can be caused by a range of issues, such as a case of vertigo. However, they can also be a sign of infections, allergic reactions, cardiac episodes, and the like, so they should always be followed by a trip to the doctor as soon as you can manage one. If you have any of these symptoms accompanied by weakness in facial muscles or your limbs, you should go to the emergency room as this can be the warning sign of a stroke.
Unexpected bleeding from either end
Both rectal bleeding and unexplained bleeding from your mouth, such as bloody vomit, should be treated as extremely serious. Rectal bleeding can be caused, for instance, by ulcers or by colon cancer, and may appear as black or darkened stool. Coughing up or vomiting blood could be a sign of stomach cancer, lung cancer, bronchitis or tuberculosis. If there is any usual bleeding, do not hesitate to have it checked out as soon as possible. Another example is blood in your urine, which could be a sign of a bladder infection or kidney infection, which needs to be treated as soon as possible.
Legs can swell due to a range of conditions. Sometimes, it can be benign and may be treated with compression socks or may simply go away by itself in a matter of time. However, the most serious cause of swollen legs is heart failure. Swelling in the extremities is often linked to changes in blood pressure, which can cause the blood and other fluids to become backed up in the limbs, rather than getting pumped through the blood as they normally should be. Thyroid issues and vein issues may be other causes, but the complications of such conditions should be dangerous so they should be treated regardless.
Flashes of lights
Another sign that something could be about to go seriously wrong with your vision. Like a floater, flashes of light in your eyes could be a sign of a detached retina. As the name suggests, this is when the retina, a layer of light-sensitive cells, pulls away from the supporting tissue. As such, if you don’t take the steps to find immediate care, you could end up suffering permanent vision loss. However, if you are prone to migraines, lights can also be a sign that one is about to come on.
Acting in time is always the crucial factor when it comes to a health emergency. Keep the above symptoms in mind and be able to recognize them so you can more quickly make the decision that could be the difference between a serious health crisis and something much more manageable.