We all have little aches and pains that come and go. Perhaps even a little dizziness when standing up to fast, or maybe a little heartburn after that spicy meal. Most of the time we’re pretty good at figuring out whether something we’re feeling is serious or can be ignored. The problem is those serious conditions that can often trick us into thinking we’re OK, and that we’re simply experiencing a little heartburn or a headache that will go away with time. Most of the time there are ways to separate the serious from the not-so-serious, and in many cases, these serious conditions can be quite serious – even life-threatening. The following symptoms are characteristic of medical conditions you do not want to ignore.
1. Sudden intense headache
This is definitely something you don’t want to take chances with. A severe headache, which may feel like the worst headache you have ever experienced is a warning sign that could indicate you have an aneurysm on your brain that has ruptured. Getting immediate medical attention under these circumstances is critical. Without intervention, an aneurysm can lead to brain damage and even death.
2. Sharp, stabbing pain in the side
Most of us have experienced gas pains that probably made us pretty miserable, but this kind of pain is usually on a different level. If you’re also running a fever and feeling nauseous, there’s a chance that you could be suffering from appendicitis. Despite the fact that the appendix is a tiny little organ that often seems insignificant, it can cause big problems when it becomes inflamed. In women, these symptoms could also indicate an ovarian cyst. In either situation, emergency surgery is likely in the cards, so don’t delay calling for help.
3. Persistent leg cramp
Leg cramps certainly aren’t any fun, but they usually go away after a minute or two. If you experience one that simply does not want to stop, it could be an indication of deep-vein thrombosis or DVT. This is a serious condition that results from a blood clot that forms in the legs. Even though a clot in one of your legs may not seem like a life-threatening situation, the real danger is that the clot can break lose and travel to the lungs or the heart which can result in death. Spending a lot of time sitting can make DVT more likely, especially for those who travel a lot by air. Other risk factors include taking certain hormone replacement medications and other estrogen-based medications.
4. Chest pain
Yes, this is one that should be recognizable by just about everyone in light of all the attention heart disease has been getting in the last few decades. Although conditions like heartburn can bring about chest pain, it is normally not comparable to a heart attack, which is usually unmistakable, being described by many as a feeling of an elephant sitting on your chest. Chest pain, accompanied by pain that radiates into an arm, nausea, shortness of breath and sweating are further indications of heart attack. Women may also experience symptoms such as upper abdominal pain, pressure, throat pain, fatigue or a burning sensation.
5. Unrelenting back pain
This often occurs after someone has exerted themselves, especially if it involved moving or lifting something heavy. Although you might expect a dose of Advil or aspirin to dull or relieve the pain, neither one of those remedies will make much of a dent in the pain that accompanies a ruptured or slipped disc. Ignoring it could result in permanent nerve damage, so a call to your doctor at your earliest convenience is definitely in order.
6. Unexplained weight loss
For people who are overweight, this might seem like a good thing, but oftentimes it is closer to being a curse in disguise as opposed to a blessing. Losing more than 10 percent of your body weight without trying could be a symptom of a variety of potentially dangerous conditions including diabetes, overactive thyroid, cancer, or liver disease.
7. Bleeding gums
Another one that may not seem like a big deal at first could be an indicator of a very serious problem. Leukemia will often interfere with the blood’s normal ability to clot, resulting in gums that bleed easily, nose bleeds, bruising easily and other symptoms like fatigue, night sweats, and fever. Leukemia is a cancer of the blood-producing tissues in the body and is not something to delay getting treatment for.
Fever is the body’s normal defensive response to infection, but a fever that persists, or is particularly high warrants medical attention. A persistent low-grade fever that persists for weeks, or any fever that goes above 103 degrees Fahrenheit should be called to the attention of your doctor. A high fever can indicate a number of conditions including pneumonia, endocarditis, meningitis, or a urinary tract infection. A low-grade fever that does not go away might be a symptom of a sinus infection, some other type of infection, a virus or even some types of cancers.
9. Shortness of breath
Sudden onset of breathing difficulty could indicate a pulmonary embolism which occurs when a clot that has formed somewhere in the body travels to and becomes lodged in the lungs. Coughing up blood and chest pain are also indicators that a pulmonary embolism could be the culprit. If you find that shortness of breath can result from mild exertion, like climbing a few stairs or you are simply getting tired more quickly than usual, you could be suffering from COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Pay attention to signs your body gives off and if you are worried about any of the symptoms above, please consult a Doctor immediately.