A Doctor’s Warning
Doctor, Nutritionist and Author, Sarah Brewer reveals the health concerns you really shouldn’t ignore...
Any type of chest pain
There can be a variety of different reasons for chest pain as it can be caused by many different conditions. Some of which are more serious than others, like a heart attack being more serious than a muscle spasm – both causes of chest pain. Often it is difficult, even for doctors, to tell these types of pains apart which is why chest pain should always be taken seriously. If you find yourself experiencing troubles with your chest, seek medical advice just to be on the safe side.
Sudden weight loss
If you’re dieting and living a healthy lifestyle, you may find yourself pleased when you drop a dress size but unexplained weight loss should never be ignored. This could easily be a sign of an undiagnosed illness, so it’s best to check in with your GP to discuss it. And remember, sudden weight loss isn’t always accompanied by loss of appetite.
An unusual lump (anywhere!)
If you notice an unusual lump anywhere on your body, you should always tell a doctor. While most lumps can be due to a non-serious condition, they can also be an urgent tell-tale sign that you need treatment. It can be difficult for doctors to tell different lumps apart, so you may be referred for a biopsy so the lump can be examined under a microscope and diagnosed accurately.
We all get aches and pains from time to time. But if you notice a recurrent pain that keeps coming back, such as a serious headache, indigestion, abdominal pain or chest ache for example, you should always tell a doctor. This one is especially important for those who have other related symptoms such as weight loss, constant fatigue or lethargy.
Changes to your bowel movement
It’s time to stop being embarrassed about discussing your bowels. It’s important to remember that a change in bowel habit is one of the few ways your intestines can show that something is wrong. A change in bowel habit means opening your bowel more or less frequently than is usual for you. The stools may also change in consistency, so you develop constipation, or a slowing down of bowel movements, or diarrhoea and a speeding up of your intestines. If this continues for more than a week or two, seek medical advice – earlier if you develop abdominal pain or notice blood or slime in your motions.
Unexpected blood loss
...from anywhere! This can be a frightening symptom and one we’re sure you’re less likely to ignore but it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you find yourself coughing up blood, notice redness in your vomit, experience unexpected vaginal bleeding or see blood from any opening in the body, seek medical advice as soon as possible possible.
Difficulty swallowing or feeling full after eating very little
Problems with swallowing are commonly associated with a sore throat or tonsillitis, but if you have persistent difficulty swallowing without any pain, tell your doctor as soon as possible. This can indicate a problem with the swallowing mechanism, throat, oesophagus or stomach so it’s well worth your while to get it checked out.
A persistent, nagging cough or shortness of breath
At certain times of the year, it can feel like you are never cough or cold free. But if you find yourself suffering from a persistent nagging cough or shortness of breath, you should always tell a doctor. A cough is caused by irritation of the airways, while breathlessness suggests that your lungs are not working as well as they could be. Both symptoms aren’t they worth ignoring, they symptoms need checking out!
A hoarse voice or sore throat lasting more than three weeks
A sore throat is usually self-limiting and disappears within about a week. If it lasts longer, you should bring it to a doctor’s attention. Hoarseness may be due to problems with the muscles or nerves around the voice box (larynx) or with the vocal chords themselves. Any unexplained mouth ulcer or soreness lasting more than three weeks always needs investigating. Never ignore a persistent sore throat or hoarseness lasting more than three weeks.
A skin blemish that changes in any way or fails to heal within three weeks
Checking your skin regularly should be the norm for most people, especially as you age. But it’s also worth examining your blemishes and being aware of any that are changing. While in many cases, lesions will turn out to be harmless, it can be difficult for even a doctor to know for certain until the patch has been biopsied and examined under a microscope. If diagnosed early, the majority of skin cancers can be removed and cured. Warning signs to look out for are an ulcer or sore that gets worse or fails to heal within three weeks, or a mark that starts to:
• Develop a raised, rolled edge • Get bigger • Turn darker • Go scaly • Itch • Weep