When people think about health symptoms that require immediate medical attention, they tend to think of the more obvious signs… things like chest pains, vision or speech loss, weakness or numbness, severe abdominal pain, etc. These types of signs are more obvious and more impeding to an individual’s overall ability to function properly. And because of that, naturally, it would lead to a more immediate cause for concern and action. But what about more subtle signs and symptoms, things that seem off but don’t really interfere with day-to-day functionality? Should you seek medical attention for those?
Here’s six signs and symptoms that might have you paying closer attention to what’s going on with your body:
Steady High Fever
A fever in and of itself is not typically a cause for any type of major concern. Fever actually tends to play an important role in thwarting off infection. But a perpetual fever, however, can be a sign of a more underlying issue. A fever that is persistent could be the result of a hidden infection inside the body, leading to things like urinary tract infections (UTI) or tuberculosis. And then there are more rare cases where a steady, prolonged fever could be the result of cancerous (malignant) conditions, such as lymphomas.
Be sure to contact our office if your temperature is 103 F (39.4 C) or higher or if you’ve been dealing with a fever for more than three days.
Inexplicable Weight Loss
Most people probably wouldn’t think twice about weight loss. But what if you’re losing weight without even trying to? Probably sounds like a dream come true, right? It’s normal to fluctuate a few pounds here and there, but for anybody not categorically obese that is experiencing inexplicable loss of more than 10 pounds (or more than 5% of your body weight) during a 6-12 month period of time could actually be exhibiting a warning of something more serious. If you’re experiencing this type of weight loss, know that it’s important to consult one of our physicians regarding the matter.
This type of random, inexplicable weight loss could be caused by any of a number of different conditions, which could include an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), depression, liver disease, diabetes, cancer or malabsorption disorders (disorders that disrupt how the body absorbs nutrients).
Changes in Bowel Habits for No Reason
Bowel movements generally vary from person to person, but certainly consult with us if you notice any of the following abnormal changes occurring:
- Bloody, black or tarry-colored stools
- Persistent diarrhea or constipation
- Unexplained urges to have a bowel movement
Any veering off from the normal, when it comes to bowel habits, could signal a type of bacterial infection (things like campylobacter or salmonella) or even possibly a viral or parasitic infection. There could be a few other possible explanations too, including IBD (irritable bowel disease) or even colon cancer.
Shortness of Breath
In life, there are naturally occurring things that can cause a person to have a shortness of breath: extreme temperatures, vigorous exercise, obesity and higher altitudes are great examples of things that can cause a person to experience shortness of breath. Outside of these, however, it starts to become more of a health concern and a possible signal of an underlying problem. If you are experiencing shortness of breath, without any reasonable explanation as to why and especially if it comes on suddenly and severely, you need to seek emergency medical attention.
There are many medical causes for being short of breath. Some of which include things like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung), as well as other heart and lung problems. Panic attacks are also known to cause breathing irregularities in people.
The Feeling of Being Full But Eating Very Little
Have you ever felt full after eating less than you normally would during a meal? Maybe you have to stop eating because the feeling is so intense? Known as early satiety, this sort of condition might also involve secondary symptoms like nausea, vomiting, bloating, and/or weight loss. If you are dealing with this on a consistent basis, be sure to tell your doctor (and mention all symptoms you may be experiencing).
There are several possible causes of early satiety. One of those possible causes being a condition called GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. GERD is a digestive disorder that affects the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is the ring of muscle between the esophagus and stomach. Another cause of early satiety could be a peptic ulcer (or stomach ulcer), which is simply an open sore on the inside lining of your stomach. And then a third possible, more serious, factor of early satiety could be pancreatic cancer.
If you are experiencing bright spots or seeing flashes of light, that can sometimes be a result of suffering from a migraine. But there are other times where sudden flashes of light may signal something more serious, like retinal detachment. Be sure to seek immediate medical care if you ever experience sudden flashes of light, because doing so might help you to prevent permanent vision loss.