You can’t always tell when something is wrong. Sometimes, it might seem like you’re just feeling a little under the weather — but other times, symptoms can be much more severe. The problem is that many people put off seeing a doctor because they think it’s no big deal or they don’t want to spend the money. Here are some common health issues that could be symptoms of something more serious:
1. High Fever
A high fever lasts longer than three days without relief from over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Ibuprofen is best for children ages 3 months to 12 years old because their stomachs can’t tolerate acetaminophen. Fever may be caused by an infection in the body, like influenza or strep throat, an allergic reaction, or by an autoimmune disorder such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis — all conditions requiring medical treatment.
2. Severe Headache
A headache is a common complaint but can be more than just a minor annoyance. Severe headaches may be a serious problem and should be treated as such. By far, the most common type of severe headache is a migraine. It occurs in roughly 20% of the population and affects men and women equally. If you have this health symptom, it may be time to introduce integrative health and wellness to your routine. Remember that the key to improving your health is moderation and balance. The pain can be intense, but it isn’t usually constant — instead, it comes in waves or episodes that often alternate with relief periods that last one to two hours.
3. Dizziness or Fainting
If you have been feeling dizzy or lightheaded for more than 24 hours without apparent cause (such as standing up quickly), it could be a sign of preeclampsia. This condition causes high blood pressure in some women expecting a baby and can lead to seizures and stroke if left untreated. If you feel dizzy or faint when you stand up, sit down immediately and call 911 for help.
4. Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms that can indicate an infection or stomach upset from overeating greasy food or drinking too much alcohol. However, they can also be symptoms of more severe conditions such as appendicitis or pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). See your doctor immediately if you experience nausea, vomiting, or other symptoms such as fever, abdominal pain, or diarrhea.
5. Chest Pain
Chest pain is a common symptom, but it’s often not a sign of heart disease. Most people who have chest pain don’t have heart disease. But it’s important to check with your doctor to be sure that the cause of your chest pain isn’t something serious.
Chest pain doesn’t always come from the heart. Other conditions can cause chest pain, including:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) — heartburn and indigestion caused by stomach acid backing up into your esophagus.
- Angina — chest pressure or squeezing that happens when your heart muscle doesn’t get enough blood.
- Stroke — usually sudden numbness or weakness in one part of your body; may include paralysis; can be caused by a clot or bleeding in the brain.
6. Abdominal Pain
This can be a symptom of many conditions, but it should not be ignored. Abdominal pain can be a symptom of many conditions, but it should not be ignored. If you have abdominal pain, the first step is to determine whether or not it is acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term). Acute abdominal pain usually lasts for less than three months, while chronic abdominal pain lasts longer than three months.
Abdominal pain may be caused by:
- Acute appendicitis — an inflammation of the appendix (a small structure at the lower right end of your abdomen) that causes sharp pain in the lower right side of your abdomen
- Colon cancer — cancer that begins in cells that line the inside of your large intestine (colon)
- Gallbladder disease — inflammation or infection in the gallbladder
- Irritable bowel syndrome — chronic digestive disorder with symptoms such as abdominal pain and changes in bowel movements.
7. Painful Urination
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) affect millions of people yearly and are often treated with antibiotics. However, they’re sometimes severe enough to require hospitalization. UTIs cause painful urination and frequent trips to the bathroom — but they can also cause other symptoms like fever and chills. If you experience these symptoms, and pain during urination, see your doctor right away.
8. Sudden Vision Changes
If you suddenly struggle to read your phone or watch TV, it could be a sign of glaucoma. Glaucoma is an eye disease that damages the optic nerve and can cause partial or total blindness if left untreated. Symptoms include painless loss of peripheral vision, blurred vision, halos around lights, and red eyes. See your doctor immediately for further testing and treatment options if you have any of these symptoms.
If you are experiencing any of these health issues, visit your doctor as soon as possible. Many symptoms can be easily treated, but some may also indicate that something much more serious is happening in your body and must be closely monitored.