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You shouldn't have to live with constant pain. Sometimes our bodies send us signals to tell us something is not quite right. Don’t panic with every ache and pain, but listen and take action when your gut feeling tells you to.

Aug. 9, 2023

By Derek Hiltz, DO
Optum - Pasadena
St. Petersburg, Florida

Sometimes our bodies send us signals to tell us something is not quite right. Don’t panic with every ache and pain, but listen and take action when your gut feeling tells you to.

Living with persistent or recurrent pain can be challenging. Enduring pain is not normal, and seeking help is important. A medical professional can assess your condition, identify the underlying causes of the pain and prescribe appropriate strategies to manage and alleviate it.

While it might be tempting to dismiss certain symptoms as insignificant, they have the potential to evolve into more serious conditions if left untreated.

Here are 10 red-flag symptoms that should never be ignored:

  • Severe headaches: Do not dismiss sudden and severe headaches as they could be a sign of life-threatening conditions like an aneurysm or a burst blood vessel in the brain.
  • Chest pain: It’s not always a heart problem. It could be a sign of a blood clot, collapsed lung, ruptured esophagus or other complications. Pay attention for alternate symptoms such as faintness, vomiting and cold sweat.
  • Changes in vision: Losing vision in one eye could be a stroke, caused by a lack of oxygen supply to the brain, often resulting in problems on one side of the body.
  • Shortness of breath: Unexpected shortness of breath might indicate an anxiety attack, a blood clot in a lung or artery, or certain cardiovascular issues.
  • Constant fatigue: Feeling excessively tired all the time, beyond normal exhaustion, could be an early signal of a heart attack.
  • Sudden weight loss or gain: Unexplained weight loss could be linked to cancer, an overactive thyroid gland or liver diseases. On the other hand, sudden weight gain without a known cause may also require medical attention.
  • Nausea or vomiting: Frequent vomiting immediately after meals could be a sign of stomach cancer, gallbladder disease or severe food poisoning.
  • Coughing: Coughing up blood could indicate an underlying infection that requires medical attention.
  • Fever: A fever is the body’s response to infection. If your temperature reaches 103 degrees Fahrenheit or if you have a low-grade fever that lasts for more than seven days, it is critical to seek medical attention.
  • Unusual bleeding: If you notice blood in your urine or stools, or if you cough or vomit blood, it is important to take it seriously. Blood in the urine can indicate conditions like bladder cancer, kidney disease, infections or injuries. Blood in the stools may be a sign of trauma, hemorrhoids, or more serious issues like colon cancer or inflammatory bowel disease. Vomiting blood could indicate an ulcer or esophageal tear, while coughing up blood could be linked to lung cancer.

Taking care of our mental and emotional health is also extremely important. Our mental and emotional state has a significant influence on our overall well-being.

If you are experiencing feelings of sadness, anxiety or emotional distress, reach out to your doctor for guidance and support. Seeking help is okay when we feel overwhelmed or down. Incorporate activities that bring joy into your routine, spend time with loved ones, and practice mindfulness and deep breathing exercises.

Your health should always be your priority.

By being proactive and seeking timely medical attention, we can promote early diagnosis, proper treatment and overall well-being. Your doctor is your partner in maintaining good health and they can guide you through any concerns or fears you may have.

Together, we can keep you feeling your best.

Derek Hiltz, DO, is a board certified family medicine physician. He earned his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from Nova Southeastern University of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and completed his residency at Sun Coast Hospital in Largo, Florida. He is committed to providing quality care to his patients.

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