Medical advice from the

Expert a guide to prevent

any sudden serious illness

before it is too late for treatment.

Prevention is better than cure.


10 symptoms not to ignore

You already know that the obvious signs and symptoms
chest pain, abdominal pain or unexplained bleeding
are generally good reason to seek immediate medical
care. But, the not-so-obvious symptoms may leave you
questioning whether you need to see a doctor.

Here's a list of warning symptoms worth reading.
You may find some of the symptoms surprising.
But, be aware of the significance of these symptoms
and when it's important to seek timely medical care.
It could make a difference in your quality of life and
may even save your life.

Don't ignore these symptoms

Don't ignore the following 10 signs and symptoms
some of which are not obviously alarming. But,
trust that your body informs you of its needs.
While some messages are more urgent than
others, milder but persistent symptoms may
also signal trouble.

1. Unexplained weight loss

If you find you're losing excessive weight without intending
to do so, see your doctor. Unintentional excessive weight
loss is considered to be a loss of more than:

                                 5 percent of your weight within one month

                                 10 percent of your weight within six to 12 months

An unexplained drop in weight could be caused by a number
of conditions, such as an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism),
depression, liver disease, cancer or other non-cancerous
disorders, or disorders that interfere with how well your
body absorbs nutrients (malabsorption disorders).

2. Persistent fever

If you have a normal immune system and you're not
undergoing treatment, such as chemotherapy for cancer,
a persistent low-grade fever over 100.4 F should be
checked if it lasts for a week or more. If you have a fever
with shaking chills, or a high fever greater than 103 F
or if you're otherwise severely ill, see your doctor as
soon as possible.

If you have an immune system problem or take immune
-suppressing drugs, fever may not be a reliable warning
sign and your primary doctor or oncologist can tell you
what would signal a need for an evaluation.

Persistent fever can signal hidden infections, which could
be anything from a urinary tract infection to tuberculosis.
At other times, malignant conditions such as lymphomas
cause prolonged or persistent fevers, as can some
medications and conditions, and reactions to certain drugs.

Fever is common with treatable infections, such as urinary
tract infections. But if a low-grade fever persists for more
than two weeks, check with your doctor. Some underlying
cancers can cause prolonged, persistent fever, as can
tuberculosis and other disorders.

3. Shortness of breath

Feeling short of breath beyond the typical stuffy nose
or shortness of breath from exercise could signal an
underlying health problem. If you ever find that you're unable
to get your breath or that you're gasping for air or wheezing,
seek emergency medical care. Feeling breathless with or
without exertion or when reclining also is a symptom that
needs to be medically evaluated without delay.

Causes for breathlessness may include chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease, chronic bronchitis, asthma, heart problems,
anxiety, panic attacks, pneumonia, a blood clot in the lung
(pulmonary embolism), pulmonary fibrosis and pulmonary

4. Unexplained changes in bowel habits

See your doctor if you have any of the following:

                                 Severe diarrhea lasting more than two days

                                 Mild diarrhea lasting a week

                                 Constipation that lasts for more than two weeks

                                 Unexplained urges to have a bowel movement

                                 Bloody diarrhea

                                 Black or tarry-colored stools

Changes in bowel habits may signal a bacterial infection
such as campylobacter or salmonella or a viral or
parasitic infection. Among other possible causes are
inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer.

5. Mental status changes

Immediate medical evaluation is warranted if any of
the following occur:

                                 Sudden or gradual confused thinking


                                 Sudden aggressive behavior

                                 Hallucinations in someone who has never had them

Changes in behavior or thinking may be due to infection,
head injury, stroke, low blood sugar or even medications,
especially ones you've recently started taking.

6. New or more severe headaches
(especially if you're over age 50)

Seek prompt medical attention if you experience:

                                 A sudden and severe headache, often called a
thunderclap headache, because it comes on suddenly
like a clap of thunder.

                                 A headache accompanied by a fever, stiff neck,
rash, mental confusion, seizures, vision changes, weakness,
numbness, speaking difficulties, scalp tenderness or pain
with chewing.

                                 A headache that begins or worsens after a head injury.

These headache symptoms may be caused by stroke, blood
vessel inflammation (arteritis), meningitis, brain tumor,
aneurysm or bleeding on the brain after head trauma.

7. Short-term loss of vision, speaking or
movement control

If you have these signs and symptoms, minutes count.
These are signs and symptoms of a possible stroke or
transient ischemic attack (TIA). Seek immediate emergency
medical care if you have any of the following:

                                 Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or
leg on one side of  your body

                                 Sudden dimness, blurring or loss of vision

                                 Loss of speech, or trouble talking or understanding

                                 A thunderclap headache

                                 Sudden dizziness, unsteadiness or a fall

8. Flashes of light

The sudden sensation of flashing lights may signal the
beginning of retinal detachment. Immediate medical care
may be needed to save vision in the affected eye.

9. Feeling full after eating very little

Feeling full sooner than normal after eating and having
persistent nausea and vomiting that last more than a
week are warning signs that should be checked by your
doctor. There are many possible causes, including
pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer and ovarian cancer.

10. Hot, red or swollen joint

These warning signs may occur with a joint infection,
which requires emergency care to save the joint and
keep bacteria from spreading elsewhere. Other causes
may include gout or certain types of arthritis such as
rheumatoid arthritis