Symptoms You Shouldn't Ignore - Few things are as unsettling as a health scare like heavy feeling in chest anxiety, a sharp pain in your chest, a blinding headache or vomiting up blood. Most aches and pains aren't a sign of something serious, but certain symptoms should be checked out. See a doctor if you feel any of these things:
Blood in Your Urine
Several things can cause you to see blood when you pee. If you have blood in your urine and you also feel a lot of pain in your side or in your back, you may have kidney stones. A kidney stone is a small crystal made of minerals and salts that forms in your kidney and moves through the tube that carries your urine. Your doctor may take X-rays or do an ultrasound to see the stones. An X-ray uses radiation in low doses to make images of structures inside your body. An ultrasound makes images with sound waves.
Many kidney stones eventually pass through your body when you pee. It can be very painful. Sometimes your doctor may need to remove the kidney stone. If you see blood in your urine and you also have an increase in feeling that you urgently need to pee, make frequent trips to the bathroom, or feel burning when you urinate, you may have a severe bladder or kidney infection, Teitelbaum says. Don't wait to see your doctor, especially if you have a fever. If you see blood but don't feel any pain, it may be a sign of kidney or bladder cancer, so visit your doctor.
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Shortness of breath, or dyspnea, can have many causes, ranging from weight gain to major issues such as heart attack, stroke, blood clots, asthma and lung infections. "Anyone can experience dyspnea occasionally," Earvolino says. "But if it is severe, sudden and significantly limits your activities, you should be evaluated immediately to rule out the more serious causes."
Chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure
Musculoskeletal problems, lung infections or acid reflux may account for these symptoms; a proper history and physical can help determine the cause. Because these are also classic heart attack symptoms, get help right away if the pain comes on suddenly, is not relieved by rest, and is accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, light-headedness, dizziness, shortness of breath or sweating.
Fainting, sudden dizziness, weakness
Ongoing dizziness and fainting episodes can both have numerous causes, such as infections, allergies, or cardiac or neurologic conditions. Such symptoms warrant a trip to your doctor. Sudden weakness of any limb or facial muscle should be checked out ASAP because it is a possible symptom of stroke.
Tenderness and Pain in the Back of Your Lower Leg
This can be a symptom of a blood clot in your leg. It's called deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. It can happen after you've been sitting for a long time, like on a long plane ride, or if you're sick and have been in bed a long time. If it's a blood clot, you may feel the pain mostly when you stand or walk. You may also notice swelling. The leg is usually red and tender, and it will be larger than the other leg. It's normal to feel tenderness after exercise. But if you also see redness and feel heat where it's swollen or painful, call your doctor. Teitelbaum says you can also check for what's called the Homans sign. "If you flex your toes upward and it hurts, that's also suggestive of a blood clot," he says. "But don't rely on that. If it's hot, red, and swollen on one side, go to the ER." It's important to catch a blood clot before it can break off and block your blood flow, which can lead to complications.
'The worst headache of my life'
Another scary symptom that could mean you’re having a stroke: a sudden, severe headache. If it's the worst pain you've ever felt, call 911 right away. When it comes to stroke, time = brain; the sooner doctors can stop the bleeding, the less serious the damage is likely to be. A severe headache accompanied by a stiff neck and high fever may indicate meningitis, viral or bacterial infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. While viral meningitis is rarely serious, early diagnosis and treatment of bacterial meningitis is essential to prevent permanent neurological damage. So call 911 as soon as possible.
Changes in vision
Changes in vision can be the result of an injury, including a blow to the head, or they can be caused by allergies or infections, among other things.Whether you are experiencing loss of vision or blurred vision, you need to have a medical professional evaluate it. "With vision changes, sudden onset is the characteristic that should prompt you to be seen as soon as possible," Earvolino explains.
Bleeding is considered uncontrolled if it does not stop after five minutes of applying direct, steady pressure. Regardless of the cause whether it's an injury or a medical condition such as leukemia or hemophilia you need immediate medical assistance.
Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
While these symptoms may simply be the result of a severe case of gastroenteritis (an inflammation of the stomach and intestinal tract), they could also indicate appendicitis, meningitis or food poisoning. Often gastroenteritis is viral and resolves on its own. However, if you have bloody diarrhea or fever, you may have a bacterial infection and need antibiotics. "And if your symptoms are unrelenting and you can't keep any foods or fluids down, you run the risk of dehydration and may need intravenous fluids," Earvolino adds.
Coughing up or vomiting blood
You may occasionally cough up a bit of blood due to a cold, along with a dry throat. But if you cough up blood persistently, it could be something more severe, including bronchitis, a blood clot in the lungs, cancer or tuberculosis. A bloody cough accompanied by fever or shortness of breath might be pneumonia, in which case you need to see the doctor. Vomiting blood is more serious it's a symptom that always needs medical evaluation. It could signal a bleeding ulcer, severe liver damage or possibly even tumors in the stomach or esophagus. "If your symptoms aren't severe and if you have them only once in awhile, take the time to make an appointment with your doctor," says Earvolino. "Don't try to diagnose yourself, especially on the Internet. If you are unsure how severe the symptom is, err on the side of caution and call your doctor promptly."
Weakness in Your Arms and Legs
If you get weak or numb in your arm, leg, or face, it can be a sign of a stroke, especially if it's on one side of your body. You could also be having a stroke if you can't keep your balance, feel dizzy, or have trouble walking. Get help quickly if you suddenly can't see well, get a bad headache, feel confused, or have problems speaking or understanding. "Caught early, it is often reversible," says internist Jacob Teitelbaum, MD. Don't wait to see a doctor. Call 911. If you get a clot-buster drug within 4.5 hours of your first symptom, you can lower your risk of long-term disability from stroke.
When it comes to chest pain, it's better to be safe than sorry. "Any chest pain, especially accompanied by sweating, pressure, shortness of breath, or nausea, should be evaluated by a medical professional right away," says Shilpi Agarwal, MD, with One Medical Group in Washington, DC. Chest pain or pressure can be a sign of heart disease or a heart attack, particularly if you feel it during exertion or while being active. Or, chest pain may mean problems other than with your heart; for example, you have another serious condition, such as a blood clot moving into your lung, Teitelbaum says. If your chest feels tight or heavy, and it lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back again, get help. Don't try to tough it out.
Breathing problems should be treated right away. If you're wheezing, or hear a whistling sound when you breathe, see your doctor. "Without urgent evaluation, breathing can quickly become labored, and it can be catastrophic if not evaluated and treated quickly," Agarwal says. It may be from asthma, a lung disease, a severe allergy, or exposure to chemicals. Your doctor can figure out what's causing it and how to treat it. If you have allergic asthma, an allergist or pulmonologist (lung specialist) will create a plan to manage it and reduce flare-ups. Wheezing can also be caused by pneumonia or bronchitis. Are you coughing up yellow or green mucus? Do you also have a fever or shortness of breath? If so, you may have bronchitis that's turning into pneumonia. "Time to see your doctor," Teitelbaum says.
If you feel hopeless or trapped, or think you have no reason to live, get help. Talking to a professional can help you make it through a crisis. Go to a hospital emergency room or a walk-in clinic at a psychiatric hospital. A doctor or mental health professional will talk to you, keep you safe, and help you get through this tough time.