Tuesday, April 15, 2008

6 Serious Medical Symptoms

I find this medical article from WebMD to be quite informative and could serve as a good reminders to us.

Some medical symptoms are warnings that you need immediate care. Learn to recognize these "six flags" -- six medical symptoms -- you should keep in mind:

1. If you have unexplained weight loss and/or loss of appetite , you may have a serious underlying medical illness.

"If you're on a diet, you're expecting this to happen. But if you're eating the same way -- and now have to adjust your belt a few notches tighter -- you could have a serious problem,"  says Neil Shulman, MD, a professor of internal medicine at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, and has authored numerous medical books and scientific papers. .

        "With ovarian cancer , the opposite is true," he says. "Fluid builds in the abdomen, and women think they are gaining weight. But if you have been         at the same weight range for years, and doing nothing different, see a doctor."

2. Slurred speech, paralysis, weakness, tingling, burning pains, numbness, and confusion are signs of a stroke , and you should get to an appropriate emergency center immediately. Early treatment may prevent permanent damage to the brain or even save your life.

        Slurred speech can often go unnoticed, says Shulman. However, you might have a blood clot in a blood vessel in the brain or bleeding of a blood         vessel.

3. Black, tarry stools may indicate a hemorrhage from an ulcer of the stomach or the small intestine. It is important to stop the bleeding and to rule out cancer as a cause.

        What you eat changes the color of stools. But black, tarry stools mean there may be bleeding higher in the digestive tract.   It could be a sign of a         bleeding ulcer or cancer.

4. A headache accompanied by a stiff neck and fever is an indicator of a serious infection called meningitis .

        In fact, if you can't put your chin on your chest, that's a sign you may have bacterial meningitis, says Shulman. With bacterial meningitis, you need         antibiotics immediately to kill the bacteria before it infects and scars the brain.

5. A sudden, agonizing headache, more severe than any you have felt before, could mean you are bleeding in the brain. Go to an emergency room immediately.

        A brain aneurysm is rare, but it can happen -- even in people under 40. "It can be very disastrous if it's not treated," says Shulman.    If you have a         severe,         crushing headache, you may have an aneurysm, which is a blood-filled pouch bulging out from a weak spot in the wall of a brain artery. If         treated         before it bursts, it could save your life.

6a. For women: Vaginal bleeding after menopause is a warning sign of possible cancer.

        Some women are in denial when they discover postmenopausal bleeding. "Others think it's a little cut, or something in their urine," says Shulman .          But bleeding after menopause is a symptom of uterine cancer , which is treatable if caught early.

6b. For men: A lump in your testicle with or without a small lump in the groin could be serious. Testicular cancer is more commonly found in testicles that did not naturally descend from the abdomen to the scrotum.

        Guys, when you take a shower, check yourself, says Shulman. "That doesn't mean you have to do it every day, but once in awhile. It's so simple,         simpler than washing your hair. It becomes an automatic thing, then it's easier to remember. If you know what 'normal' feels like, then you'll know         when it feels abnormal."

SOURCES: Shulman, N. Your Body's Red Light Warning Signals, Dell, April 13, 1999. Neil Shulman, MD, professor of internal medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta.
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