1- Shearing chest pain
Various medical conditions can cause chest pain, including heart diseases, circulation problems, gastrointestinal problems, and lung diseases.
The key things to consider about chest pain are location, severity, its character, and its associations with other symptoms.
Particularly, if the chest pain has developed quickly, has a tearing or shearing quality, radiates to the back, and has been persistent for more than twenty minutes, it can indicate that one has aortic dissection.
Furthermore, if you have not had a severe routine of physical activity, a traumatic event, or there is no possibility of the origin of this pain from muscular injury, it should be investigated for aortic dissection. Aortic dissection occurs when blood enters between the layers of the aortic wall.
One should consult a certified health professional immediately to rule out other conditions that can present with similar complaints.
2- Sudden weight loss
If you have not been trying to lose weight and eating a healthy diet, a sharp decline in weight over many weeks or months can mean severe underlying health conditions, like diabetes, cancer, thyroid disease, or psychiatric conditions like anxiety and depression. Hence, you should review your diet and physical activity.
If the weight loss cannot be explained by any of the factors in your daily life, you should consult a doctor. The doctor will ask questions regarding your diet, physical activity, and family history of diseases. To have an accurate diagnosis, they will use different physical exams and a variety of medical tests.
3- Swelling in feet or lower legs
Swelling in the legs or feet can be caused by many physiological changes in the body and various abnormal health conditions and medications.
Pregnant women can present with swelling in the feet as the uterus pushes on the blood vessels in the lower half of the body. This can also occur if the person sits or stands for long hours since the body’s water can accumulate in the lower legs.
On the other hand, swelling in the lower legs or feet can also indicate a heart, lung, or liver condition. In such conditions, the body produces excess water, which will result in the swelling of feet or lower legs. If there is persistent swelling and it cannot be explained by pregnancy or any medications that you are taking, it is better to talk to your primary health care professional to investigate the cause of this issue. This way, you may exclude serious health conditions and develop a plan to overcome them.
4- A sensation of tingling in hands or feet
A tingling feeling in the hands or feet is an indication of nerve damage. This symptom is usually present along with other symptoms of nerve problems, like pain in these areas and numbness. Possible causes of these symptoms are deficiencies of various vitamins in your body, conditions, like diabetes, or a failure of the normal functioning of kidneys.
Various autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, and alcoholism can also cause this sensation. If your only symptom is occasional tingling, you do not need to contact your doctor right away. But if there is a persistent tingling, which lasts for more than an hour, and pain in extremities and numbness in those areas of the body are also present, you should consult your doctor immediately to investigate the cause behind your symptoms.
5- Blood in the sputum
If you are coughing up blood, it could be coming from the gastrointestinal system or your lungs. If the blood does not contain bits of food or does not have a coffee ground appearance, it is most probably due to lung disease. Usually, blood in sputum is not alarming unless you are over 40 years of age and you smoke cigarettes.
Common causes of blood in sputum are prolonged cough and long-standing chest infections. Other causes of blood in sputum, according to ezra.com, can be the clotting of blood in your lungs, fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema), or lung cancer.
If you have blood in your sputum, it is best to consult your doctor and you might have to go through a few tests to find out what your exact diagnosis is.
Please note that the causes mentioned above can only be narrowed down by your doctor. If you think that you have these symptoms, please avoid jumping to any conclusions and contact your doctor for your concerns and questions.
6- Increased frequency of urination
An increase in the frequency of urination per day can be due to various underlying health problems. Common causes of increased frequency of urination are psychiatric issues like anxiety, kidney diseases, ureteric stones, inflammation of the bladder wall, prostate gland problems, and other diseases, like diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus.
It is best not to ignore your symptom and address it at its onset. Utilize treatment options if needed or adopt appropriate preventive measures that can help avoid potential health conditions in the future.
The doctor will ask detailed questions about your diet, mental health, family history of different diseases, other related symptoms, and the time and duration of these symptoms. Tests might be needed to exclude possible causes and to narrow them down to different diagnoses.
7- Sharp sudden joint pain
Pain in joints can be due to many underlying conditions, like inflammatory conditions of the joints, liver disease, gout, or it can be an early indication of the development of a chronic joint condition. Pain in one joint can give clues to different health conditions than pain in multiple joints simultaneously.
Persistent pain in joints should always be investigated. If you have a sudden onset of sharp pain in your big toe, it could be due to gout, which should be investigated immediately.
8- A sense of hopelessness
If you are feeling hopeless, helpless, and are losing interest in your daily life, whether personal or professional, it could indicate that you are showing symptoms of a depressive illness. Some other accompanying symptoms in depression are changes in appetite, disturbances in sleep patterns, and feeling exhausted all the time. In such a situation, you should consult your doctor to have your mental health assessed.
If you have thoughts of committing suicide or thoughts of planning your suicide, you should consult your doctor or call on an emergency mental health helpline number immediately.
Depression involves feeling hopeless and helpless and decreased interest in activities that you used to have and changes in appetite and sleep which cannot be explained by any other reason. In severe depression, you can have thoughts relating to suicide.
It should be noted that feeling hopeless can be a symptom of many mental health conditions. A persistent feeling of hopelessness over many weeks or months should indicate depression, which needs to be investigated right away.
9- Weakness in one side of the body
You can have weakness on one side or both sides of the body; the weakness may occur on one side of the arms, legs, or both sides of the body.
Here are some conditions that can cause weakness in one side of the body:
– Autoimmune conditions like multiple sclerosis.
– Inflammation of the brain, its meninges, and spine.
– Cancers of the spine and the brain.
– Traumatic conditions like head injuries.
Most commonly, a partial weakness over one side of the body with limited ability to move that side is an indication of a stroke. But symptoms of stroke can vary, depending on the area of the brain affected and the type of stroke one is having. If weakness is accompanied by difficulty in speech or loss of control over urination or defecation, it is important to call your doctor right away.
Your doctor will ask questions about your diet, physical activity, family history of cardiovascular events, and your smoking and alcohol history if any.
The doctor may also do a physical exam to test the strength of muscles in the affected part of your body and may order tests, like a CT scan, to have a look at your brain and its blood supply.
It should be noted that an early consultation and a thorough exam and tests can save your life and they should take top priority in such a condition.
Note: Sometimes, these symptoms alone can indicate a serious health issue. In other situations, they can even hint towards a health condition only if they are persistent or if coupled with other symptoms.
Please note that this list is not an exhaustive list of warning symptoms and these symptoms can be caused by various conditions. You should contact your primary health care professional to go through the required tests and exams to narrow down the possible causes of your symptoms and reach a conclusive diagnosis.
NB: The intention of this article is not to exacerbate your anxiety or create a sense of fear.
- American Stroke Association, Hemiparesis, Accessed 26 March 2021, https://www.stroke.org/en/about-stroke/effects-of-stroke/physical-effects-of-stroke/physical-impact/hemiparesis
- NHS, Coughing up blood(blood in phlegm), Accessed 26 March 2021, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coughing-up-blood/
- American Psychiatric Association, Depression, Accessed 26 March 2021, https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression
- MSD Manual Consumer Version, Joint pain- Many joints, Accessed 26 March 2021, https://www.msdmanuals.com/home/bone,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/symptoms-of-musculoskeletal-disorders/joint-pain-many-joints