|24 WARNING SIGNS YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO IGNORE
These common aches and ailments could very well be nothing. Or something far, far worse. Here are 24 warning signs that you need to take seriously, and what you should do if you experience them.
#1 The Warning: You feel short of breath and you’re not even exercising.
What it May Signal: Pulmonary embolus
Quick, rush to the Emergency Room. Feeling short of breath after exercise or while sitting could be due to exertion or anxiety, but if you experience sudden onset shortness of breath, it could be pulmonary embolus, a potentially life-threatening blood clot in the lungs.
Other conditions that could make your breathing to suddenly become rapid or uncomfortable, or give rise to the sensation that you aren’t getting enough air, are heart attack or heart failure, both of which require immediate medical attention.
#2 The Warning: Your ticker is racing even though you’re sitting still.
What it could be: Heart attack
Call your doctor. Though it could just be anxiety (watching the Indian cricket team crawl through the score line is enough to set any heart racing), palpitations also could indicate a heart attack or arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm).
#3 The Warning: You feel dizzy when you get out of bed.
Likely Cause: Low Blood Pressure
Lightheadness in the morning is called orthostatic hypotension, which can be due to conditions such as dehydration, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, heart failure, or medications, including diuretics and blood pressure medicines. Another possibility is benign positional vertigo, which is caused by a disturbance within the balance organs of the inner ear. See a doctor.
#4 The Warning: You’re leaking.
Possible Cause: Take your pick from the choices below
Urinary incontinence (leaking urine) is not a part of the normal aging process. It could signal a urinary tract infection (UTI), a problem with your prostate, nerve compression, or diabetes. See a doctor.
#5 The Warning: A persistent pounding in your head.
What it could be: Brain Haemorrhage
Rest assured that in a majority of cases it’s a symptom of migraine that can be relieved with painkillers and rest. However in rare instants, headache could be a sign of tumour or brain haemorrhage, esp if the pain is on one side of your head, sudden, severe and lasting and associated with nausea, vomiting and watery eyes. Rush to the hospital.
#6 The Warning: Your eyes have swelled to the size of walnuts.
What it could be: Optic Neuritis Optic neuritis
It is a medical emergency that affects the nerves in the eyes, either due to an infection or allergic reaction. If detected in the earlier stages it can be treated with proper medication, and you may save your vision.
#7 The Warning: Your ear hurts and you’re seeing double of everything.
Likely Cause: Middle ear infection Ear infections
These are particularly treacherous and are known to worsen abruptly and take a serious turn without warning.
Run to the doctor if pain escalates and/or is accompanied by giddiness, headache, vomiting, double vision, drowsiness, neck stiffness, swelling behind the ear, high fever and paralysis of the face.
#8 The Warning: You’ve dropped pounds without even trying.
What it may Signal: Cancer
If you haven’t been eating any differently, a shift in weight, viz. unintentional weight loss, could be due to a malignancy. Other possibilities are an endocrine abnormality such as a thyroid disorder, depression or diabetes. All require immediate medical attention.
#9 The Warning: Sudden groin pain.
Likely Cause: Testicular torsion
Testicular torsion is a relatively common congenital defect. One of the spermatic cords is twisted, which cuts off the flow of blood to the testicle. Not as severe as a shot to the crotch, but pretty close. The pain is sometimes accompanied by swelling.
If you catch it in 4 to 6 hours, you can usually save the testicle. But after 12 to 24 hours, you’ll probably lose it. Another possible cause of the pain in your pants: an infection of the epididymis, your sperm-storage facility. Antibiotics can stifle an infection.
#10 The Warning: A tingling feeling under your feet.
What May Mean: Neuropathy
A recurring tingling feeling anywhere in your body could be the result of nerve compression, hyperventilation, or neuropathy (a nerve disorder). Call your doctor as soon as possible.
#11 The Warning it takes forever for a bruise to disappear.
What’s Ahead: Diabetes
Slow healing of cuts and bruises may be a sign of diabetes. (Other warning signals include itchy skin and tingling in your hands and feet.) You don’t need a doctor to tell you to shed extra pounds (even a 10 per cent loss will make a diff to blood sugar levels); exercise, and monitor your diet.
#12 The Warning: Your tooth tingles when you eat chocolate.
What’s Ahead: Gingivitis
One of the first signs that a cavity may be forming is sensitivity to sweets. Other early signs of tooth decay are a discolored tooth and odor when you floss. A laser technique called quantitative light fluorescence can identify early tooth decay and remove bacteria before a cavity forms.
#13 The Warning: You have a 42-inch waist.
What’s Ahead: Impotence
You may not have a problem now, but according to a Harvard study, erectile dysfunction could be in your future. Why? Over¬ weight men often have clogged arteries, and that can inhibit the blood flow needed to get an erection. So buy yourself a 34-inch belt and don’t stop exercising until it fits you. Losing weight can help ensure that the softness of your gut doesn’t spread to other parts of your body.
#14 The Warning: You go blind - but just for a second.
What it May Mean: Stroke
The common risk factors for stroke include blood pressure above 140/90 and total cholesterol higher than 200. But numbness in one side of your body and a temporary blackout in both eyes are the most significant warning signs; sudden numbness, slurred speech or a loss of balance may be evidence you’ve had a TIA, or transient ischemic attack. That’s a mini-stroke that almost always leads to a full-blown one. See your doctor immediately if you’ve had any of these symptoms.
#15 The Warning: It feels as if you have heartburn.
What it could be: Angina
On-and-off chest pains that last for hours are what doctors call “unstable coronary syndrome.” The pain is caused by blood clots forming on the inside wall of a coronary artery - at a site where plaque breaks off. About 50 per cent of people who experience unstable coronary syndrome will have a heart attack within the next 6 months. It’s evident you have a plaque buildup that - when it does break off - could lead to a cut in the blood supply to your heart. Anytime you have chest pain, go to a hospital.
#16 The Warning: Severe back pain.
What it could be: Aneurysm
Similar to the kind of agony you’d expect if you’d just tried to clean-and-jerk a wardrobe. The usual remedies - heat, rest, OTC painkillers - offer no relief. If it’s not related to exercise, sudden severe back pain can be the sign of an aneurysm. The pain subsides after your body’s main artery bursts. A less threatening possibility: You have a kidney stone.
A CT scan reveal the size and shape of an aneurysm. Your doctor will prescribe blood-pressure medication or surgery to implant a synthetic graft.
#17 The Warning: You wiggle around in your office chair.
Likely Cause: Tight back muscles
If you often change positions, it’s a sign your back muscles are tensing ¬which over time, can lead to painful lower-back strain. The slumped C shape that you sit in for hours at work forces your muscles to contract - which leads to muscle cramps, tightness, and soreness. To un-slump, pretend a string is attached to the middle of your chest, gently pulling your breastbone upward. This small change positions your head correctly on your spine, which minimizes muscular stress in your neck, shoulders, and lower back.
#18 The Warning: Your dad’s been diagnosed with hypertension.
What’s Ahead for You: Ditto
Since moderately high blood pressure doesn’t have outward warning signs, it’s important to be tested once a year, especially if high blood pressure runs in your family. In one study, highly stressed men who had parents with high blood pressure were several times more likely to have it themselves. If you have a reading higher than 140/90, exercise more, lose weight, cut sodium from your diet, eat heart¬-healthy fish, and get more vitamin C. Studies show that people who get the most of the vitamin have the lowest blood pressure.
#19 The Warning: You arms start shaking in the Military Press move.
Likely Cause: Muscle fatigue
If you haven’t been to the gym in a couple of months, your muscle shakes are probably because your muscles are fatigued; it’s your body’s way of telling you that you’re going to throw up if you do just one more set. Some gym returnees have been known to hurl during their first day back in the gym because they work too hard, too soon. Stop when you feel your muscles shaking a sport. Give yourself extra time between sets on your next visit to the gym.
#20 The Warning: The party is swinging but you aren’t.
Likely Cause: You’ve had one too many
Alcohol is a central-nervous-system depressant. So if you drink too much, every part of you connected to the central-nervous-system is depressed¬ your judgment, your mood, your coordination and balance, your pain sensitivity, your sexual performance. One sign that you’re headed for blotto-¬land: Your mood starts to sour. For most men, that’s when the blood alcohol concentration is around 0.06 per cent, just short of being labeled legally drunk. That’s usually two to three drinks over about 2 hours.
#21 The Warning: Persistent foot or shin pain.
Likely Cause: Stress fracture
Bones, like all the other tissues in your body, are continually regenerating themselves. But if you’re training so hard that the bone doesn’t get a chance to heal itself, a stress fracture can develop, that presents itself as a nagging pain in the top of your foot or the front of your shin that’s worse when you exercise, but present even at rest, and is impervious to ibuprofen and paracetamol.
Radioactive dye reveals the fracture in the x-ray, and you’ll be told to stop all running until the crack heals. Worst case, you’ll be in a cast for a few weeks.
#22 The Warning: Sharp pain in the abdomen.
Likely Cause: Take your pick from the choices below
Since the area between your ribs and your hips is jam-packed with organs, the pain can be a symptom of either-appendicitis, pancreatitis, or an inflamed gallbladder. In all three cases, the cause is the same: Something has blocked up the organ in question, resulting in a potentially fatal infection. Exploding organs can kill a person. See a doctor before this happens.
#23 The Warning: Leg pain with swelling.
Likely Cause: Deep-vein thrombosis
Just sit in one place for 6 or more hours straight and wait for the blood that pools in your lower legs to form a clot (a.k.a. deep-vein thrombosis, or DVT). Next thing you know, that clot will be big enough to block a vein in your calf, producing pain and swelling. Unfortunately, the first thing you’ll probably want to do - rub your leg - is also the worst thing. It can send a big clot running up to your lung, where it can kill you (See Pulmonary embolus).
A venogram, in which dye is injected into the vein and then x-rayed, is the definitive way to diagnose DVT. They’ll try to dissolve the clot with drugs, or outfit vulnerable veins with filters to stop a clot before it stops you.
#24 The Warning: Painful urination.
What it could be: Bladder cancer
Relieving yourself has become an exercise in expletives. Also, you could swear (and you do) that your yellow stream has a rusty tint. The pain and the blood in your urine are symptoms of this, the fourth most common cancer in men. Smoking is the biggest risk factor. Catch the disease early and there’s a 90 per cent chance of fixing it. Bladder infections share the same symptoms.
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