Ignoring These 7 Symptoms Could Be Dangerous

Pain can manifest differently for everyone. It may be sharp or dull, last a few minutes or persist for days. But certain pains, such as chest pain, should never be ignored.

When you experience a symptom that doesn’t go away, schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor. A visit could save you from a medical crisis.

1. Shortness of Breath

There are few sensations more frightening than feeling like you can’t get enough oxygen. Breathlessness or the sense of suffocation is also known as dyspnea, and it’s often a symptom of heart or lung conditions that affect the body’s ability to take in oxygen or remove carbon dioxide. Extreme exercise, very hot or cold temperatures, pregnancy and changes in elevation can all cause shortness of breath.

But if you’re constantly huffing and puffing even when you’re at rest, it’s time to see a doctor. If your shortness of breath happens suddenly and is accompanied by chest pain or neck pain, it may be a sign of a heart attack.

Your heart and lungs work together to bring oxygen into your bloodstream and remove carbon dioxide. Problems with either of these processes can impact breathing. Examples of lung-related conditions that can lead to shortness of breath include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, pulmonary embolism and pneumonia. These symptoms can all be exacerbated by smoking, exposure to secondhand smoke or certain medications.

2. Chest Pain

Chest pain is one of the most common reasons people visit the emergency room. It can be hard to know whether it’s something serious or not, but it’s important to pay attention to the signs and symptoms.

If you have chest pain that’s new, severe, or lasts longer than 10 minutes, it’s a good idea to call an ambulance (in the United States and Canada, dial 9-1-1) right away. This will get you to a hospital faster, so doctors can start treatment right away.

Chest pain can feel sharp or dull, burning or pressured, and it may affect a single area of the chest or multiple areas. It might worsen with activity or be relieved by rest. It can also radiate to the arms, back, neck, jaw, or belly. You might notice that the pain gets more intense when you’re talking or coughing, or that it happens when you’re bending over, lying down, or eating. It can even be a sign of a pulmonary embolism, which is when a blood clot lodges in the lungs and blocks blood flow.

If you’re experiencing chest pain that doesn’t go away or feels worse, it’s important to see a doctor. Chest pain is not normal and could signal something from harmless stress or indigestion to a heart attack or other serious condition.

Chest pain is typically felt in the area of the heart, lungs and esophagus. However, it can also originate from the chest wall components (muscles and bones) and other organs. Chest pain may also be the result of noncardiac conditions such as esophagitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease or peptic ulcers. It may also be caused by trauma to the chest or neck, strained muscles of the rib cage, inflammation of cartilage in the rib bones (costochondritis) or referred pain from the gallbladder and stomach.

If you’re experiencing severe, recurring or sudden chest pain, call 911 and ask for an ambulance. An ambulance will have a highly trained team and special equipment to ensure you are safe and taken to the emergency room promptly. This will be much faster than getting a ride to the hospital from a friend or family member.

3. Headache

A headache is no fun but it is generally nothing to worry about. If the headache comes and goes and it isn’t persistent or severe, you can take an over-the-counter painkiller and be back to normal. But if headaches are occurring more frequently or are getting worse in intensity, it could be a sign of a serious health issue.

Headaches come from a combination of factors, including dysfunctional or heightened activity in the pain-sensitive structures of your head and face. These headaches, called primary headaches, aren’t a symptom of another disease and include tension-type headaches and migraines.

However, new headache symptoms that are persistent and severe and include a change in vision or speech, sensitivity to light and sound or weakness on one side of the body should not be ignored as these can indicate a life-threatening condition such as a brain hemorrhage, a stroke or a tumor. They can also be a warning sign of a carotid artery dissection (a tear in the wall that carries blood to your head and neck) or a bleed in the membranes covering your brain and spinal cord, known as meningitis.

4. Vomiting or Coughing Up Blood

If you see blood in your spit or when you cough, it can be alarming. But it may not be a sign of serious illness, depending on how much you’re coughing up and if you’re young and otherwise healthy. A medical tracking app would be a great help for people with sickness to monitor and track their symptoms and alert themselves and their families if they need to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

The medical term for coughing up blood is hemoptysis, and it can occur in different forms. It can be bright red, rust-coloured or pink and frothy, or it may appear mixed with spit or mucus. It usually comes from the lungs or airways in the throat, but it can also come from the nose or mouth.

Vomiting blood is also dangerous and should always be taken seriously. This symptom is called hematemesis and it may be accompanied by dizziness, fainting or confusion. Hematemesis can also be a sign of serious problems in the lower part of your digestive tract, such as bleeding from swollen veins (varices) in the stomach or the first portion of your small intestine (duodenum).

It is best to see your health care provider for any signs of blood in the vomit or spit. If you do see blood, the healthcare provider will decide how serious the problem is and whether or not you need to go to hospital.

5. Unpleasant Smells

At one time or another, everyone has emitted an unpleasant smell. A foul odor may be a sign of a medical problem.

Odors can signal that food has been spoiled or contaminated. They can also indicate an air quality issue like sewage or smoke. These odors can be dangerous to inhale in large quantities and can cause breathing difficulties, headache, eye irritation and possibly death.

Body odor, also known as bromhidrosis, is caused by bacteria on the skin that produce an odor. The bacteria grow considerably in the presence of sweat. Some medical conditions, genetics and being overweight can contribute to the odor.

Rotting flesh, such as shark meat, roadkill or a bloated whale carcass, produces some of the most repulsive smells in existence. These smells can make you want to vomit and are often so dreadful that they prompt doctors to wear complete biohazard suits when treating patients suffering from gangrene. Other unpleasant odors include farts, sewer odor and smoke from oil refineries. All of these smells can be dangerous to inhale in small amounts.

6. Fatigue

Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of illness and stress. It can be caused by many things, from not getting enough sleep to eating a diet full of sugar and caffeine. It can also be the result of a mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety.

In addition to addressing lifestyle factors, it is important to see your doctor if you experience persistent fatigue. They will be able to determine the cause and work with you to find a treatment plan.

It is also important to remember that fatigue is not a standalone symptom and often comes with other signs and symptoms, such as muscle aches and pains, headaches, sluggishness or trouble concentrating. These other symptoms can be just as dangerous to ignore. In some cases, it may be necessary to refer patients to a specialist in order to get the correct diagnosis and receive the appropriate treatment. For example, fatigue is often a sign of chronic diseases such as heart disease or COPD. In those cases, it is important to start treatment right away.

7. Loss of Appetite

The body uses many internal and external cues to regulate appetite, including hunger, taste, smell, and the sight of food. However, some medical conditions can cause a lack of appetite. This condition is also known as anorexia and it may be a warning sign of serious illness.

A loss of appetite can be a side effect of some medications and can affect people of all ages. It can also occur due to illness, such as a stomach bug, flu, or the common cold. In addition, some cancer treatments can cause a loss of appetite along with nausea. Other reasons include pregnancy and morning sickness during the first trimester.

A long-term loss of appetite can lead to weight loss, dehydration, and nutritional deficiencies. A person who loses their appetite should seek medical attention as soon as possible. This will ensure that the underlying issue is treated and prevent complications. Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa can also cause a loss of appetite and can be fatal if not treated. Treatment for mental health issues and a healthy diet can restore a person’s appetite.