Is that headache or tummy pain something serious? In this piece, we show you seven symptoms of common illness you should never ignore.
By the way - do you ever wonder what's the difference between a sign and symptom in medical terms?
A symptom is what people experience when they are ill - like a headache or tummy pain.
A sign on the other hand, is what the doctor finds when they examine you - such as a high blood pressure reading.
But I often speak with people who have had some symptoms and thought they would soon go away, so they've not sought medical advice until things have been going on for a while. We hope this post helps you deal better with this dilemma.
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Symptoms of Common Illness
Several health problems bring people to the emergency department every day because they feel incredibly ill or are worried they may have a serious problem.
Below is a list of common illnesses and symptoms that people experience.
1 Tummy Pain
An extremely common health problem - though the tummy is only one possible cause!
In addition to the stomach, you have the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen, the blood vessels in the abdomen, appendix, small and large bowel, bladder, ovaries, womb, glands and many other structures in that space.
- Never ignore constant pain - whether it is dull or sharp/stabbing; or comes and goes.
- Be suspicious of any pain that is getting worse;
- or tummy painthat comes with a fever,
- changes to the look of your urine or stools;
- when you also feel bloated and
- have prolonged vomiting.
2 Leg Swelling
Here is another common problem that can have severe implications.
There are many possible causes, but please do not ignore this symptom
- if it develops suddenly - especially if it's on one leg and there is pain.
The possible cause is blood clots in the veins, also known as deep vein thrombosis or DVT.
DVT is more common in older people, especially if they are not mobile.
Still, younger people
- on the combined contraceptive pill,
- who are overweight,
- are pregnant,
- or who've recently had major surgery are at a greater risk of DVT.
- Having cancer also makes it more likely to get a DVT.
But other causes of leg swelling may be kidney problems, liver disease, conditions with low protein levels.
It may be an early sign something is not right with the organs, so please do not ignore it.
Another common reason to attend the emergency room. Headache can happen with so many other problems like infections with fever, dehydration, stress, depression, etc.
But what about when everything else seems ok, and you get headaches?
Headaches could be from a migraine, high blood pressure, giant cell arteritis.
In giant cell arteritis blood vessels in the head become inflammed - a condition that can happen elsewhere.
Brain cancer can also feature headaches among other symptoms.
- Never ignore a headache when it is constant, wakes you up from sleep, or seems to affect just one side of your head.
- Would you please seek medical advice when it also happens with dizziness, vomiting, and changes to your eyesight? weakness to your limbs, or other new symptoms?
When you feel your heart beating extremely fast, fluttering, skipping beats, flip-flopping or pounding - that's a palpitation.
Palpitations could happen when we feel stressed - anxious, worried or excited, following medication (like some cold/cough medicines) or exercise.
In these cases, they will settle in a short time or after stopping the drug. However, they are also signs of a medical condition such as an abnormal heart rhythm like atrial fibrillation or thyroid gland problems.
You may also develop palpitations from taking stimulants like caffeine, nicotine or amphetamines.
- So never ignore this symptom if it comes out of the blue, lasts longer than a few seconds and occurs frequently.
- Some other symptoms that may happen with palpitations are - dizziness or feeling faint, chest pain or tightnessand breathing difficulty. You may also experience a feeling of nausea/sickness.
They could all indicate a problem with the heart, which we should not ignore. This is so especially if you already have pre-existing heart problems.
We could vomit for all manner of reasons - pain, fear, excitement, drug side effects, stomach bug or other infections, pregnancy, kidney and liver disease - are just a few. It is one of the broadest symptoms of common illness.
Frequent vomiting can lead to dehydration, so it's not just essential to find the cause; when it is severe, replacing fluids can be crucial to avoid dehydration and kidney injury.
Another vital thing about vomiting is - the appearance of the vomit - which may suggest bleeding from the gut due to a stomach ulcer, cancer or other cause.
If there is bleeding, vomit could look red, have large clumps or streaks of blood within it; or appear black/sticky - seek urgent medical if this happens.
Fatigue is a symptom most commonly disregarded because people explain it as a result of stress and being jobs.
Looking after their family or other activities can also be physically and mentally draining. While these are valid activities, it's also important to know that worsening or persisting tiredness or fatigue should not be ignored.
It can also be a part of severe health problems.
For instance, heart, kidney, liver diseases, and metabolic conditions like diabetes mellitus or anaemia can result in extreme fatigue.
In fact, feeling 'tired all the time' can be an initial sign of their presence.
Therefore tiredness is an important symptom to discuss with your health provider.
7 Dry Mouth
Dryness of your mouth can be disregarded as a sign of feeling thirsty or that you've just not had enough water. Instead, it could mean that your salivary glands are not making enough saliva because you do not have enough fluids due to dehydration. But when you have this condition happening frequently, it should get your alarm bells ringing.
Causes include some drugs like antidepressants, antihistamines and diuretics or blood pressure tablets. If you are taking these, check the leaflet that comes with your medicine. This will tell you if dry mouth is a side effect, and you can speak with your health provider about changing the drug.
However, constant dry mouth even when drinking a lot more water than usual could suggest a metabolic illness like Diabetes Mellitus. Another cause is Anxiety disorder, stress or nervousness.
Have you heard of Sjogren's Syndrome? Well, it's a disease where a person's immune system attacks and damages their salivary glands.
Choosing not to ignore constant dryness in the mouth could help identify these conditions early.
So, my health-conscious friends, these are some symptoms of common illness you should never ignore and why.
Any surprises? Let me know in the comments. In the meantime, ask questions and stay Healthy
Editing by AskAwayHealth Team
All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising Medical Practitioners on a wide range of health care conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality health care. The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified health care practitioner.
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