7 Symptoms You Should Never Ignore

Here’s a guide to health symptoms that should be checked out by a medical professional.

With so much health information at our fingertips, it can be easy to think every cough is the flu and every mole could lead to skin cancer. This can lead you to be concerned about every symptom you have, no matter how minor it may be. But here are 7 health symptoms you should take seriously. If you experience any of these, contact a medical professional for further evaluation:

  1. Shortness of Breath: Shortness of breath during exercise is normal. But if you feel like you’re just not getting enough air while walking or climbing up steps, it may indicate a serious lung or heart issue, COPD or asthma.
  2. Chest Pain: Though Hollywood likes to portray heart attacks as dramatic onsets of crushing pain, many heart attacks start as mild chest pain or upper body discomfort. Seek medical attention if you experience chest pain AND pain in one or both arms, cold sweats and shortness of breath.
  3. Headache or Stiff Neck: A severe headache or neck ache, especially accompanied by a fever, could be a sign of meningitis. Other signs of meningitis include vomiting or nausea, sleepiness, sensitivity to light, confusion, poor appetite, and in some cases, skin rashes.
  4. Blood in Stool: Blood in your stool typically indicates bleeding somewhere along the GI tract. It can be caused by common problems such as constipation or hemorrhoids, but may also signal inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulosis or even colon cancer. Tell your doctor if you notice blood.
  5. Changes in vision: If you experience an abrupt change in vision, such as vision loss or extreme blurriness, call 911 immediately – it may be a sign of a stroke. Other symptoms of stroke include numbness of the face or slurred speech. If any of these are present, call 911.
  6. Dizziness: If you experience brief periods of dizziness or lightheadedness regularly, it is important that you tell your primary care doctor – it could signify stroke, internal bleeding or abnormal heart rhythms.
  7. Swollen Ankles and Feet: If your feet and ankles stay swollen for an extended period of time, it may indicate a serious health problem, such as lymphedema, venous insufficiency, blood clots, infection, or heart, liver or kidney disease. Call your doctor if you notice abnormal swelling.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should never be ashamed to call a doctor or seek medical help  – it is always better to be safe than sorry.

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Date Last Reviewed: December 20, 2016

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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