We’ve all had those days when a pounding headache and sensitivity to light and noise completely wreck our day. Or days when we cope with infections, colds, allergies, and muscle aches. Fortunately, these health symptoms and conditions often resolve on their own with rest or after a few days of taking medication. However, if you experience symptoms that last for a longer period or gradually worsen over time, it’s important not to disregard them.
Our bodies have their own way of telling when something is wrong. The key to long-term health is identifying signs that may threaten your health and getting prompt treatment. What exactly are these indications and health symptoms? Let’s have a look at six crucial health signs that may indicate a serious underlying health condition and shouldn’t be ignored.
1. Difficulty Breathing
It’s normal for a person to feel short of breath when they’re lifting heavy weights or working out. However, if you have difficulty breathing without an apparent cause, it could be a sign of cardiovascular or lung-related issues that need proper diagnosis and treatment.
Acute shortness of breath is a prominent symptom of serious health conditions like COVID-19 infection, pneumonia, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart problems, and even lung-related malignancies. If you experience persistent shortness of breath accompanied by chest pain and painful coughing, your doctor might prescribe a scan for the potential presence of mesothelioma.
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While other health conditions develop over time, a sudden shortness of breath may indicate a serious and life-threatening condition. A collapsed lung, lung clots, and heart dysfunction or failure can also cause sudden but severe shortness of breath. The list of possible underlying conditions is long, most of them requiring immediate treatment.
Contact your healthcare provider or call 911 for emergency medical intervention if you have difficulty breathing. Try not to panic, as it can trigger anxiety and make your breathing problem even worse.
2. Persistent Fever
Fever is your body’s way of fighting illnesses and infections. However, persistent fever or a long episode of high-grade fever that doesn’t go down even with medication could indicate a serious underlying health condition. Night fevers, together with unexplained weight loss, can also be a sign of early-stage cancer. Timely diagnosis and treatment can help you avoid further damage and recover from life-threatening health conditions.
Persistent low-grade fever is another alarming health symptom that shouldn’t be ignored. It could indicate bacterial infections affecting your heart, lungs, gastrointestinal system, kidneys, and liver. This type of fever could also be a sign of an autoimmune disorder like lupus.
If a persistent fever is accompanied by other symptoms like a severe headache, body pains, chills, loss of appetite, breathing problems, or a wheezing sound from the lungs, it’s advisable to seek emergency medical care. Your doctor may prescribe some blood tests and imaging to get a complete picture of your body and find the root cause of the fever.
3. Unusual Headaches
It’s not unusual to get a headache often, especially if you have an irregular sleep-wake cycle or you’re in a stressful situation. These headaches usually go away on their own after getting some rest or taking painkillers and NSAIDs. But some headaches shouldn’t be ignored as they signal serious underlying conditions. This is especially true if your headache is accompanied by:
- Brain fog
- Visual changes
- Speech or mobility issues
- Nausea or vomiting
- Neck stiffness
- Facial asymmetry
Any of the above health symptoms, along with a headache, can be a sign of potentially life-threatening problems like a stroke, internal bleeding, or brain tumor. Consult your doctor if you experience any changes in the frequency of occurrence, intensity, and type of headache.
4. Unexplained Weight Loss
Changes in your dietary routines, exercises, and even periods of stress and depression may result in weight loss or loss of appetite. But if you are losing weight rapidly for no apparent reason, it’s a sign you shouldn’t ignore. Unexplained weight or appetite loss is usually associated with the following health conditions:
- Thyroid problems
- Diabetes, both type 1 and type 2
- Liver and pancreas issues
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Mental health issues, especially chronic depression
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Autoimmune disorders
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Carcinomas in any part of the body
Research suggests that individuals who lose 5% of their total weight within 6 to 12 months should seek prompt medical care and get screened.
5. Chest Pain
Chest pain is one of the most petrifying sensations, which people often associate with a heart attack or heart failure. Certainly, an intense stabbing pain in the chest radiating to your arm and upper jaw can be a sign of an active heart attack. Intense chest pain also indicates serious medical conditions like pericarditis, thick heart muscle, tear in a major artery, and coronary artery disease. Additionally, chest pain is also associated with milder medical issues like indigestion, acidity, GERD, and thoracic outlet syndrome.
If you experience heaviness in your chest, even without pain, you should immediately call 911 or visit the ER.
6. Excessive Urination
Excessive urination, or polyuria, is a symptom that requires due attention as it can indicate problems in your renal system or thyroid glands. An average person urinates up to seven times a day. But if you’re frequently visiting the bathroom and even waking up at least once every night, there could be an underlying cause that needs medical care.
However, before you start worrying, assess your total fluid intake, including your daily consumption of alcohol and caffeine. Some fad diets like low-carb-high-fat diets, portion controls, and crash diets necessitate excessive water intake, which lowers your body’s retention rate and increases both frequency and volume of urination.
But if you’re consuming around 8-10 glasses of liquids every day, your excessive urination could be a symptom of serious medical issues, including:
- Urinary tract infection
- Kidney infections or functional problems
- Type-2 diabetes
- Infection of the urethra
- Vaginitis (in females)
- Interstitial cystitis or painful bladder infection
- Enlarged prostate in males
Consult your doctor immediately if you notice an unusual and sudden increase in the frequency of urination, accompanied by pain or burning sensation, weight loss, pain in the lower back while urinating, or excessive thirst.
Health is the biggest blessing a person can have. Apart from basic lifestyle changes, you must keep a close check on the above-mentioned crucial health symptoms. We hope this valuable information will help you seek prompt medical care and improve your chances of recovering in case of emergencies.