If recent research conclusions are right – that married men enjoy better health because their wives see to their care, even if they have to nag their men into it – then by all means, use this list of signs and symptoms to cajole your loved ones into seeking prompt medical advice (and not from an online source, either).
We know about chest pain, blurring speech, sudden loss of vision, severe cramping or abdominal pain, but there are others:
- Unexplained weight loss. An unexplained loss of weight could have a variety of causes, from wedding planning excitement to an overactive thyroid, diabetes, depression, cancer, liver disease, malabsorption disorders and so forth. It could indicate the presence of a serious hidden health problem. So while having the pounds just melt away by magic sounds like a great problem to have, it needs to be checked out. Dropping 10% of your weight in six months means ‘call your doctor’s office for an appointment’.
- Shortness of breath. Breathlessness may have a whole host of causes: chronic bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, a blood clot, pulmonary disease, panic attacks. If you feel breathless when you lie down, you need prompt medical attention. If you are wheezing and gasping for air, you need emergency medical attention. Shortness of breath is not normal, and anything more severe than how you feel with a stuffy nose or after a good workout could be a sign of an undiagnosed health problem.
- Persistent or high fever. Fever plays an important role in fighting infection and isn’t always a cause for alarm. However, running a fever for more than two or three days warrants a check-up. A high fever, 103 F or higher, is a reason to call your doctor promptly. Persistent fever can indicate the presence of an undetected infection or other serious condition.
- Unexplained changes in bowel habits. We all know that what’s ‘normal’ means ‘what’s normal for you’, and this all varies considerably. But something you know full well is absolutely not normal for you – black, bloody stools, for example, or persistent constipation or diarrhea – could signal a bacterial infection or a viral or parasitic infection. There is also the possibility of colon cancer or irritable bowel syndrome. You may not want to make this call to your doctor, but do it anyway.
- Feeling full after eating very little. Early satiety, feeling full sooner than normal or after eating less than usual on a consistent basis, needs to be checked out by your doctor. You may also feel uncomfortable or bloated; other signs of trouble are nausea, vomiting, fever, and weight changes. Possible causes include GERD and irritable bowel syndrome and even more serious problems, including pancreatic cancer.
- Personality changes or confusion. Seek medical attention if you have sudden confused thinking; sudden problems with concentration or memory; sudden personality or behavior changes (becoming aggressive, for example); confusion about time or place.
- Flashes of light. Sudden flashing lights could signal retinal detachment – and this means immediate medical care is required to help prevent permanent vision loss. Flashes of light, bright spots and other similar events are sometimes signs of a migraine headache.