In most aspects of our lives, the adage ‘age is just a number’ is more than true, but we can’t say the same regarding our overall health. No matter how healthy we are, aging comes with certain issues. And although the elderly are more prone to experience the following symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean that young adults couldn’t have them too.
No one wants to see their doctor, but some symptoms and signs warrant at least a call (if not a visit) to your doctor. A minor health concern can quickly transform into a major one, so as soon as you spot something unusual, it’s always, but always better, to be safe than sorry.
To sum things up, whenever you’re in doubt, your doctor isn’t. So, if you’re experiencing any of the following signs and symptoms, you might want to give your doctor a ring ASAP!
1. You see floaters
Almost all of us experience floaters from time to time, and although in most cases there’s no reason to be concern, seeing spots in your vision could be a sign of a really big vision problem such as an inflammation in the eyes, retinal detachment, or a retinal tear.
An assistant professor of clinical optometry at the Ohio State University College of Optometry, JP Maszczak, OD, says that both retinal detachments and tears can result in permanent vision loss if not treated immediately. Bear in mind that most floaters occur due to age.
2. You have a high fever that won’t go away
If you have a high fever that doesn’t go away, it’s best to call your doctor. According to a primary care physician at Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center, Ayesha Cheema, MD, persistent fever can have many root causes, including pneumonia and bacterial infection.
Call your doctor as soon as possible if it doesn’t want to go away even after taking an OTC fever reducer. Plus, if it’s also accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting, coughing, nausea, or a headache, do not hesitate! All of these warrant a visit to your doctor.
3. You have sudden eye pain
Unexplained and sudden eye pain could be a conjunctivitis symptom. Also known as pink eye, conjunctivitis is always a medical concern since it is quite contagious. Eye pain could also signal something more serious such as an infection. Just call your doctor and describe as good as you can what you’re experiencing.
4. You have shortness of breath
No idea why you’re experiencing shortness of breath? Well, if you didn’t perform an intense physical workout, contact your doctor. Shortness of breath that seems to come out of nowhere could be a sign of heart-related issues.
According to the director of cardio-obstetrics and internist at NYPH/Columbia and co-director of the Women’s Center for Cardiovascular Health at Columbia, Jennifer Haythe, MD, in most cases, shortness of breath is always a medical concern that requires a visit to the doctor. Please do not ignore it!
5. Your vision is suddenly blurry
Maszczak says that sudden vision loss is strongly associated with several chronic health conditions like cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension. So, if you have any of these health conditions, it could be quite understandable why you’re experiencing sudden blurred vision.
But, if you’ve done your medical check-up recently, and you’re actually healthy with no underlying health issues, maybe you need new glasses. Nevertheless, it’s best to get a blood test. Talk to your doctor first. Maybe you’re developing a chronic health condition like diabetes.
6. You have intense shoulder pain
Experiencing intense and sudden shoulder pain is one of the biggest medical concerns out there. Why? Because it can actually be a sign of a heart attack! Dr. Haythe advises people to take their signs and symptoms seriously. More importantly, if your symptoms come out of nowhere and escalate quickly, do not neglect them.
7. You wear contact lenses, and your eyes are painful, red, and watery
As noted by Maszczak, wearing contact lenses increases your risk of infection significantly. He also added that this is particularly accurate when you’re not cleaning your contact lenses properly and not replacing them as you should.
So, if you wear contacts and your eyes are kind of painful, watery, and red, all these symptoms and signs always warrant a call to your ophthalmologist. Do not joke with that; doctors reported cases of patients ending up blind because they went to the doctor when it was way too late.
8. You have chest pressure
Feeling pressure on your chest could signal many health problems, including arrhythmia, dissection, pneumonia, and pulmonary embolism. Do not assume that your chest pressure is nothing! Chest pressure is always a medical concern, so you might want to grab your phone and call your doctor ASAP.
9. You have double vision
After a long and extremely exhausting day of work, it may be normal to experience double vision, especially when you’re working in front of a screen. However, getting double vision for apparently no reason at all, particularly when it doesn’t seem to go away, it’s indeed a medical concern.
First, cover or close your eyes; if your double vision is still there, it means you need to seek medical help. Double vision could be a sign of many underlying causes, including high blood pressure and even stroke. Don’t act like a gambler with your life! ‘Double or nothing’ could literally mean that in real life.
10. You have chest tightness
According to Haythe, when you’re experiencing chest tightness, a serious health issue is going on. This symptom could actually indicate an aortic dissection, an arrhythmia, a heart attack, or a pulmonary embolism. As you can see, chest tightness and chest pressure have the same root causes, so try to explain to your doctor as best as you can your symptoms.
11. You have weakness on only one side of your body
An emergency medicine specialist medical director of the Weingart Foundation Emergency Department at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., Russ Kino, MD, says that experiencing weakness on just one side of your body usually indicates a stroke.
As soon as you’re aware of your symptom, talk to your doctor, or, even better, call 911 for an ambulance. It has been proven that the quicker you seek treatment for a stroke, the better the outcome will be.
12. You have chest pain
By now, almost all of us know that chest pain is a classic heart attack symptom. However, chest pain could also signal something like reflux. No matter the root cause, you don’t want to wait! Call your doctor immediately and bear in mind that chest pressure, tightness, and pain are cousins, but they have different personalities.
13. You have dizziness accompanied by chest pain
While dizziness can be caused by a wide range of health issues such as vertigo, migraines, Meniere’s disease, an infection, poor blood circulation, anemia, and even dehydration, when it is accompanied by chest pain, give your doctor a ring!
It is always a medical emergency when accompanied by chest pain and, generally, it means that something’s wrong with your ol’ ticker.
14. You have foot or leg pain that gets even worse at night
Having foot or leg pain that gets even worse when you’re sleeping (or trying to) could be a symptom of a stress fracture. A stress fracture is a fatigue-induced bone fracture usually caused by a series of repeated stress.
In other words, a stress fracture doesn’t result from a single impact but from repeated stress accumulated over time. Running and jumping are often the most common culprits. And even if it seems like no big deal, it’s best to call your doctor because a stress fracture can eventually lead to a complete break.
15. You have throat pain that initially appeared in your chest
Most of us wrongly assume that throat pain is caused by a sore throat. And, yeah, it may be, but having throat pain could also signal heart issues, especially if it started in your chest. This type of pain rooted in your chest is no joke. Call 911 if things get worse.
16. Your breathing is way too rapid
Also known as tachypnea, rapid breathing occurs when you’re forced to take way too many breaths than normal. To be more specific, if you take more than 20 breaths per minute (normally, an adult takes between 12 to 20 breaths), it’s time to call your doctor.
Dr. Kino says that rapid breathing could be caused by many conditions, including asthma, blood clots, diabetic ketoacidosis, infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and even anxiety attacks.
17. You are all sweaty, and you don’t know why
In most cases, sweat is a sign of high fever, but if your temperature seems normal, it’s even more concerning. Experiencing sweat for apparently no reason, such as an intense workout, could signal a heart attack, a pulmonary embolism, an arrhythmia, or an aortic dissection.
18. You have a stiff neck and a headache
Generally, according to Dr. Kino, experiencing a stiff nick without a headache is commonly associated with having a muscle spasm. However, if your stiff neck is accompanied by a headache along with sensitivity to light, it means that you could actually have an infection around the brain, a.k.a. encephalitis.
Note that encephalitis can be fatal when left untreated.
19. You have swollen ankles, legs, or feet
Although having swollen feet, ankles, or legs may seem like virtually no medical concern at all, in some cases, it could indicate liver disease, congestive heart failure, and even cancer. It is highly unlikely, but it’s best to be safe than sorry.
20. You burned yourself, and you’re not sure how bad it is
Initially, it is very hard, if not impossible, to tell how bad a burn is since it can look okay on the surface. However, in case you ever burn yourself, don’t try to treat yourself at home. Visit your doctor to get the right treatment.
A burn that is not treated properly can lead to sepsis, an infection that goes into the blood, causing organ failure and even death.
21. You have heart palpitations
When your old ticker skips a beat, you should seek medical help as soon as possible. While a heart palpitation isn’t always harmful, it could also signal arrhythmia, heart valve problems, heart muscle issues, or even heart failure.
A full physical exam could tell you what’s the problem. However, they could also be caused due to stress. So, if you have several stress factors in your life, try to solve this issue first.
22. You experience lower right back pain
If lifting weights is not your thing, experiencing lower right back pain could actually translate to appendicitis. This is always a medical emergency, often resulting in surgery. When left untreated, appendicitis could lead to peritonitis which is basically the inflammation or infection of the peritoneum.
23. You think you have the flu
Do you think you have the flu? If the answer is yes, you might want to give your doctor a ring, especially if you’re dealing with diabetes. People with diabetes struggle to fight against viral infections more than healthy people.
Plus, it can also raise your risk of developing certain health complications. If you have diabetes, avoid sick people and get vaccinated annually. Doctors say that September is the best month to get yourself vaccinated.
24. You’ve been puking for more than 24 hours
Viral and foodborne illnesses can make you puke all day long, but make sure to inform your doctor about it. Vomiting for more than a day translates to dehydration and a big change in the number of electrolytes, and since electrolytes play a crucial role in many functions like nerve signaling, blood pressure management, and muscle function, you might want to fix the issue.
Vomiting could also indicate other health concerns such as Crohn’s disease, viral gastroenteritis, or irritable bowel syndrome.
25. You have constant diarrhea
We can all agree that diarrhea can be worse than vomiting, and when it’s experienced for more than a day, you should definitely take action! Chronic diarrhea can lead to low potassium levels, leading to other severe complications.
When you have diarrhea, remember the word ‘BRAT.’ It stands for Bananas, Rice, Apples, and Toast. This is what you should eat. If this diet is unable to relieve your digestive issues, call your doctor.
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26. You haven’t peed in more than six hours
Indeed, you may be on the road again, avoiding that bottle of water for obvious reasons, but when your water intake is in check, why don’t you feel the urge to visit the bathroom? Dr. Kino says that this could be a sign of dehydration, but it could also signal kidney failure.
Drink plenty of water to see what happens. If you’re still struggling to pee, call your doctor.
27. It hurts when you pee
On the contrary, you can pee, but it really hurts. Dr. Cheema notes that painful urination is often a sign of a urinary tract infection. It can also be caused by inflammation of the urinary tract. Inform your doctor about your painful urination, especially when it’s accompanied by a fever. And, yeah… stay hydrated!
28. You experience severe abdominal pain
From appendicitis to bowel obstruction, severe abdominal pain could mean a lot of things. In fact, diverticulitis, gallstones, and hernias can cause severe abdominal pain too. Reach your doctor immediately and tell him/her what’s going on.
Listen to your body carefully. Every single second of your life, your body is trying to signal you things. You just have to listen.
29. You have mood swings
Just like the vast majority of symptoms listed here, mood swings can be several root causes. From thyroid, medications, and some mental health conditions to diet, poor sleeping habits, and even stroke, mood changes deserve a call.
A healthy diet, meditation, enough sleep, and stress management could make your mood shifts vanish.
30. You’re wheezing
That high-pitched whistling sound you hear when you breathe could indicate a wide range of health concerns. In most cases, wheezing means asthma, but it can also be a pretty common sign of an allergic reaction to a certain medication or an insect bite.
However, many severe underlying health conditions can be behind your wheezing, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, obstructive sleep apnea, pneumonia, gastroesophageal reflux disease, heart failure, and even lung cancer.
Yeah, a seemingly innocent symptom like wheezing could translate to cancer; that’s why you should never assume that everything is perfectly fine (unless you’re a doctor and you know what you’re saying).
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