Anyone who lives with a chronic health condition is well versed in listening to their body. You will have a list of warning signs that you will instinctively know how to deal with and address. But there are an increasing number of health issues that we all need to start looking out for as we get older. You will know first-hand how important education and understanding health issues is and identifying warning signs early can make the world of difference with so many health conditions.
And this is not just about us. We need to know how to listen to what our friends and family members are telling us so that we can identify potential warning signs. After all, we all have that relative who would do almost anything instead of going to the doctor and telling them that they are worried about their health. Here are just a few of the major warning signs that you should never ignore, whether it’s your own body sounding the alarm or someone else’s.
Shortness Of Breath
This is one of those warning signs that can get very serious very quickly. If you notice that you or someone near you is really struggling for breath, you need to ask for assistance as soon as possible. There are several different reasons why this could be happening. Some of them are lifestyle related and can be a factor because of weight or smoking. You could also suffer from shortness of breath due to ongoing conditions, such as asthma or anxiety (shortness of breath can be a sign of a panic attack, for example).
However, it could also be a symptom of a serious lung condition, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. If you feel either pains in chest (more on that below), pain that is spreading to your jaw, back, neck or arms, or if you feel or are being sick, you need to call the emergency services. If you have noticed that your shortness of breath is ongoing, or if it is accompanied by a cough or swollen ankles, get medical advice from your doctor.
Sudden Chest Pains
Here is one that a lot of people try to ignore. The appearance of sudden chest pains is often brushed off as something that is just one of those things, or a sign that the person in question probably needs to stop doing something. The fact is that it can be the sign that a serious cardiac event is about to take place. Heart disease is the biggest killer worldwide, and not spotting the early warning signs can be deadly. In addition to sudden chest pains, you should also take the feeling of tightening very seriously. If a relative has complained of these symptoms, you should urge them to see their doctor as soon as possible.
Unexplained Weight Loss
When we lose weight suddenly, we tend to chalk it up to stress or other lifestyle issues. Given everything that is going on in the world right now, there are plenty of reasons why we may have stopped taking proper care of ourselves. However, unexpected weight loss can also be a sign that there is an underlying heath issue that needs to be addressed. One of the most urgent reasons why you should talk to your doctor if you notice unexplained weight loss is that it can be a symptom of cancer. As scary as the statistics surrounding cancer are, it is vital to remember that your chances are significantly better if you can spot it early. It is recommended by the American Cancer Society that women over the age of 40 should be getting a screening mammogram every year, and it is the best early detection method for breast cancer. Ezra offers an annual scan to help give you the best chance of catching cancer early.
A Fever That Won’t Go Away
At this time of year, we all expect to come down with one virus or another. A fever can be a perfectly normal part of a cold or flu, a sign that your body is fighting the infection. However, if you have a fever after three days then it is time to talk to your doctor. One of the most important things you should do if you notice that you have a fever is to get a COVID-19 test as soon as possible, as it is one of the potential symptoms. However, a persistent, ongoing fever could also be the sign of your body fighting something more serious than a seasonal flu.
An Intense Headache
It can be difficult to tell when a headache is something that will pass soon enough as long as you take some painkillers and get some rest and when it is something more serious. If you suffer from regular migraines, or if a headache is one of the symptoms of a chronic health condition, you may be more inclined to brush it off as a particularly bad one. But a very severe headache can be the sign that something is very wrong. If you find yourself thinking “this is the worst headache I’ve ever had” then it might be time that you stop worrying about wasting the doctor’s time and start picking up the phone to call for help. It is particularly important to call the doctor if you are over 50 and this is the first time that you have experienced a headache like this.
If the headache started suddenly after physical activity (including exercise or sex), or if it has got worse since a head injury, call for help. You also need to alert someone if you notice that there are other symptoms that started with the headache (eyelid drooping, slurred or otherwise impaired speech, or struggling with balance), or if the pain seems to be coming from one eye in particular. If your vision starts to become affected or if it keeps getting worse, then you need to stop ignoring it and call a doctor.