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Don’t ignore signs that something isn’t right. Many people talk themselves into thinking that what they see or feel is nothing to worry about. But even something common, like heartburn, can be a sign of trouble. It’s important to know when to talk to your doctor.
Some symptoms call for quick attention. Some are obvious, like chest pain or severe abdominal pain. But other, more subtle symptoms may also indicate a serious issue that needs to be addressed. The Mayo Clinic says to watch out for these symptoms.
Unexplained weight loss can signal a health problem. If you’re not overweight and you’ve lost more than 5 percent of your body weight in the last six to12 months, check it out with your doctor. It could be a sign of an overactive thyroid, diabetes, depression, liver disease, cancer or a problem with how your body takes in nutrients.
Lasting or high fever can be a signal of a hidden infection, like a UTI. But it could also be a sign of some kinds of cancer. Call your doctor if your temperature is 103 degrees or higher or you've had a fever for more than three days.
Shortness of breath could suggest a hidden health problem. It can happen if people are overweight or work out too much. But in other situations, shortness of breath may be a sign of a health problem. If it comes on quickly and is severe, seek urgent health care. Gasping may stem from COPD, asthma or pneumonia. It could also be a sign of a blood clot in the lung (pulmonary embolism) or other heart and lung problems.
Unexplained changes in bowel habits could be cause for talking to your doctor. You know what’s normal for you. Some changes that you should discuss with your doctor are unexplained urges, bloody or black stools, or frequent constipation or diarrhea. Changes could mean you have an infection, irritable bowel disease or colon cancer.
Confusion or personality changes call for medical attention if they’re sudden. That can mean trouble thinking and focusing or behavior changes. Many problems could be causing these symptoms, including infection, poor diet, mental health issues or even your medicines.
Feeling full after eating very little could point to a problem if it’s not normal for you. You might also experience nausea, vomiting, bloating or weight loss. Likely causes involve gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and peptic ulcers. These signs might also suggest pancreatic cancer.
Seeing flashes of light could mean a migraine is coming on. But in other cases, sudden flashes in your vision could signal retinal detachment. Seek care right away to help prevent vision loss.
Speaking up to get the care you need can be a key to good mental and physical health. It’s vital to be involved in your care. Be sure to:
Not every new feeling or body change signals a serious health problem. But it is important to pay attention, because catching a health issue early can mean it’s more treatable.
Many people have put off preventive care like cancer screenings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But you don’t need to wait. Health care facilities are providing cancer and other preventive screenings. Precautions are taken to keep you safe. So don’t put them off.
Our Wellness Guidelines offer recommendations for preventive care and screenings like colorectal, cervical and breast cancer. Talk to your doctor about your health concerns and find out what screenings are right for you.
Know your body. Be aware of changes. And follow your gut. If something doesn’t seem right, don’t wait to see if it passes. And don’t be afraid to be assertive about getting the care you need.
Knowing your family health history is an important part of understanding your own risk for health problems. It can even save your life.
Tennis great Chris Evert recently shared her story of facing a treatable but often deadly cancer. After losing her sister to ovarian cancer, she was inspired to take aggressive preventive measures. Her vigilance paid off when ovarian cancer was found at a very early stage.
Learn your family health history, and share what you find out with your doctor.
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