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Ten Symptoms You Can't Ignore

Wednesday, 06 June 2007 12:00 AM

Chest pains, abdominal pain and unexplained bleeding are good reasons to seek immediate medical care. Other reasons to seek immediate medical care are less well known. The June issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter covers 10 symptoms not to ignore:

1. Unexplained weight loss — Experiencing a 5 percent weight loss in a month or a 10 percent weight loss within six to 12 months could signal a number of different conditions such as an overactive thyroid, depression, liver disease, cancer or other noncancerous disorders that interfere with how well your body absorbs nutrients.

2. Persistent fever — A persistent low-grade fever — over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit — should be evaluated if it lasts for a week or more. Fever can signal underlying infections. Some underlying cancers and other medical conditions can cause prolonged, persistent fever. A fever accompanied by violent chills or greater than 103 degrees Fahrenheit should be evaluated right away.

3. Shortness of breath — Gasping for air or wheezing are medical emergencies. Causes vary widely and can include asthma, heart problems, anxiety, panic attacks, or a blood clot in the lungs.

4. Unexplained changes in bowel habits — Bowel habit changes may signal a bacterial infection, a viral infection, inflammatory bowel disease or colon cancer. Seek care for any of the following:

5. Mental status changes — Changes in behavior or thinking may be due to infection, head injury, stroke, low blood sugar or medications. Immediate medical care is warranted for any of the following:

6. New or more-severe headaches (especially for those over age 50) — Medical attention is needed right away for

Causes vary for headaches that are considered medical emergencies and may include stroke, blood vessel inflammation, meningitis, brain tumor, aneurysm or bleeding on the brain after head trauma.

7. Short-term loss of vision, speaking, movement or control — Minutes count because these are symptoms of a possible stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA). Seek immediate emergency care for any of the following:

8. Flashes of light — The sudden sensation of flashing lights may signal the beginning of retinal detachment. For that condition, immediate care is needed to save vision in the affected eye.

9. Feeling full after eating very little — Feeling full sooner than normal after eating or having persistent nausea or vomiting for a week might indicate possible gastrointestinal disorders, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer or ovarian cancer.

10. Hot, red or swollen joints — These warning signs may occur with a joint infection, which requires emergency care to save the joint and prevent the spread of bacteria. Other causes could include gout or certain types of arthritis.

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Chest pains, abdominal pain and unexplained bleeding are good reasons to seek immediate medical care. Other reasons to seek immediate medical care are less well known. The June issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter covers 10 symptoms not to ignore: 1. Unexplained weight...
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2007-00-06
Wednesday, 06 June 2007 12:00 AM
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