By Dr Willie Ong (Internist and Cardiologist)
I will share with you 10 warning signs you may have a serious disease. Many symptoms just come and go, but having any of these 10 signs should alert you to check on your health.
- Severe headache – Many people develop mild headache due to tension and stress. This can usually be relieved by massage, rest and sleep. However, if you have severe headache, that you may refer as “the worst headache of your life” then this could be a serious sign. If you also have nausea, vomiting and dizziness, then see a doctor immediately. We are concerned about a stroke or an aneurysm.
- Sudden weakness and numbness of the arms or legs – Symptoms of a stroke are sudden weakness, dizziness, difficulty speaking and loss of balance. Even if the symptoms are mild, you should consult a doctor. Of course, numbness can be due to other disease like diabetes or nerve impingement.
- Chest discomfort and heaviness – If you are at risk for heart disease, such as having high blood pressure, diabetes or a smoker, then any chest pain should be investigated. The pain of heart disease usually lasts 5 to 15 minutes, starting in the lower chest area and may radiate to the left arm or jaw. Other serious signs include shortness of breath, cold sweats and lightheadedness. Call a doctor immediately.
- Tearing pain at the back – This can be due to a pulled muscles or nerve problem. However, if the pain is severe and sudden, this could be a rupture of the aorta. If the pain persists for more than 20 minutes, seek medical help asap.
- Feet and leg swelling – Leg swelling may be due to leg vein problem and varicose veins. Other more serious causes of swelling include a heart, liver or kidney problem. Those with heart failure have fluid backing up in the lungs and legs and feet. If you have persistent leg swelling, you should consult a doctor to investigate the cause.
- Changes in urination. Having dark yellow urine. – This could be a sign of dehydration, not drinking enough water. You may also have a urinary tract infection, prostate or kidney problem. Make sure you drink 8-10 glasses of water daily. Limit intake of coffee and alcoholic drinks because this can dehydrate you further. Drink water, herbal tea or coconut water.
- A lump in the breast – Breast cancer is the number one cancer killer in women. So it is important to investigate any small lump in the breast even if you don’t feel any pain. Late signs of cancer include nipple discharge and thickened skin in the breast area.
- For women, unusual vaginal discharge and painful contact – Symptoms of cervical cancer are having pain or discomfort during sex; irregular menstrual bleeding; severe pelvic and abdominal pain and unusual vaginal discharge. Visit your Ob-Gynecologist regularly for your check up and Pap’s smear test.
- Blood in stools – It is scary to see blood in your stools. This can due to hemorrhoids which is a less serious condition. However, blood in the stools may also be due to cancer of the color. If you stools are black and tarry, then there could be stomach bleeding from an ulcer.
- Weight loss without dieting – As we get older, the chances of having a serious disease increase. Therefore any weight loss of 10 pounds in a person who is not dieting needs to be investigated. This could be the first sign of an underlying problem like thyroid condition or cancer.
I know it’s scary to think about these warning signs, but it’s always better to be on the alert for these serious diseases. By being aware of these conditions, we are able to change our lifestyle and prevent these diseases. Take care.