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Monday, September 10, 2007

Don't ignore these 10 symptoms!


These 10 symptoms may not look very serious but can lead to seek medical care. And in some cases, immediate consultation to medical service is required, to save your life.

Don't ignore the following 10 signs and symptoms — some of which are not obviously alarming. But, trust that your body informs you of its needs. While some messages are more urgent than others, milder but persistent symptoms may also signal trouble.

1. Unexplained weight loss
If you find you're losing excessive weight without intending to do so, see your doctor. Unintentional excessive weight loss is considered to be a loss of more than:

5 percent of your weight within one month
10 percent of your weight within six to 12 months
An unexplained drop in weight could be caused by a number of conditions, such as an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), depression, liver disease, cancer or other noncancerous disorders, or disorders that interfere with how well your body absorbs nutrients (malabsorption disorders).

2. Persistent fever
If you have a normal immune system and you're not undergoing treatment, such as chemotherapy for cancer, a persistent low-grade fever — over 100.4 F — should be checked if it lasts for a week or more. If you have a fever with shaking chills, or a high fever — greater than 103 F — or if you're otherwise severely ill, see your doctor as soon as possible.

If you have an immune system problem or take immune-suppressing drugs, fever may not be a reliable warning sign and your primary doctor or oncologist can tell you what would signal a need for an evaluation.

Persistent fever can signal hidden infections, which could be anything from a urinary tract infection to tuberculosis. At other times, malignant conditions — such as lymphomas — cause prolonged or persistent fevers, as can some medications and conditions, and reactions to certain drugs.

Fever is common with treatable infections, such as urinary tract infections. But if a low-grade fever persists for more than two weeks, check with your doctor. Some underlying cancers can cause prolonged, persistent fever, as can tuberculosis and other disorders.

3. Shortness of breath
Feeling short of breath — beyond the typical stuffy nose or shortness of breath from exercise — could signal an underlying health problem. If you ever find that you're unable to get your breath or that you're gasping for air or wheezing, seek emergency medical care. Feeling breathless with or without exertion or when reclining also is a symptom that needs to be medically evaluated without delay.

Causes for breathlessness may include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic bronchitis, asthma, heart problems, anxiety, panic attacks, pneumonia, a blood clot in the lung (pulmonary embolism), pulmonary fibrosis and pulmonary hypertension.

4. Unexplained changes in bowel habits
See your doctor if you have any of the following:

Severe diarrhea lasting more than two days
Mild diarrhea lasting a week
Constipation that lasts for more than two weeks
Unexplained urges to have a bowel movement
Bloody diarrhea
Black or tarry-colored stools
Changes in bowel habits may signal a bacterial infection — such as campylobacter or salmonella — or a viral or parasitic infection. Among other possible causes are inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer.

5. Mental status changes
Immediate medical evaluation is warranted if any of the following occur:

Sudden or gradual confused thinking
Disorientation
Sudden aggressive behavior
Hallucinations in someone who has never had them
Changes in behavior or thinking may be due to infection, head injury, stroke, low blood sugar or even medications, especially ones you've recently started taking.

6. New or more severe headaches (especially if you're over age 50)
Seek prompt medical attention if you experience:

A sudden and severe headache, often called a thunderclap headache, because it comes on suddenly like a clap of thunder.
A headache accompanied by a fever, stiff neck, rash, mental confusion, seizures, vision changes, weakness, numbness, speaking difficulties, scalp tenderness or pain with chewing.
A headache that begins or worsens after a head injury.
These headache symptoms may be caused by stroke, blood vessel inflammation (arteritis), meningitis, brain tumor, aneurysm or bleeding on the brain after head trauma.

7. Short-term loss of vision, speaking or movement control
If you have these signs and symptoms, minutes count. These are signs and symptoms of a possible stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA). Seek immediate emergency medical care if you have any of the following:

Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg on one side of your body
Sudden dimness, blurring or loss of vision
Loss of speech, or trouble talking or understanding speech
A thunderclap headache
Sudden dizziness, unsteadiness or a fall
8. Flashes of light
The sudden sensation of flashing lights may signal the beginning of retinal detachment. Immediate medical care may be needed to save vision in the affected eye.

9. Feeling full after eating very little
Feeling full sooner than normal after eating and having persistent nausea and vomiting that last more than a week are warning signs that should be checked by your doctor. There are many possible causes, including pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer and ovarian cancer.

10. Hot, red or swollen joint
These warning signs may occur with a joint infection, which requires emergency care to save the joint and keep bacteria from spreading elsewhere. Other causes may include gout or certain types of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis.

This article is research based work from "Mayo Clinic" a medical education and research foundation.
Original Article link:Symptoms

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