You need a doctor if…

Our body often warns us of impending trouble; knowing which signals to heed to can save your life

Man holding a thermometerWe don’t rush to a doctor for every little health hitch. But some health hiccups warrant medical opinion. Here are eight such symptoms that should compel you to consult your doctor…

  1. Pain on your left: Pain or heaviness on the left side of your chest should not be taken lightly. Especially if it is accompanied with breathlessness and heavy sweating. Agreed, that it may be due to increased acidity…but it could even indicate a cardiac condition. At times, the pain may even be in the centre of the chest and radiate towards the left arm or the back. In either case, seek a medical opinion to rule out doubts. Don’t hesitate if the doctor recommends an ECG or a stress test.
  2. Breathlessness: A sudden difficulty in breathing or breathlessness when lying down is a warning sign of asthma or heart disorders. Even a slight tightness around the chest that gets relieved by leaning forward or sitting upright hints a respiratory condition.
  3. Fever: Body temperature over 102 degree Celsius should be reported to your doctor. Fever associated with bleeding [from anywhere in the body], rash, breathlessness, a wound that’s taking too long to heal, decreased urination, jaundice, irrelevant talk or incessant vomiting, means serious illness and should be looked into immediately. Even if the fever isn’t high but has been recurring [especially in the evenings], visit a doctor.
  4. Headache: Headaches of considerable intensity that are fairly recurrent aren’t normal. If the throbbing feels like ‘the worst headache of your life’ or if it wakes you up from sleep, it could be a symptom of haemorrhage or a tumour. If the headache is accompanied by vomiting, dizziness or fainting spells, waste no time in getting medical attention.
  5. Weakness of any limbs, slurring of speech or temporary blindness in any eye: These are ominous signs of a stroke. Symptoms disappear within minutes leading you to think that it’s nothing serious. Dizziness and confusion could also indicate a stroke, which can be prevented with early intervention.
  6. Change in bowel habits: If the colour, consistency or frequency of your stools has changed, consult your physician. A dull pain in the abdomen or a sudden increase in the abdominal girth, could indicate a tumour or an intestinal disease.
  7. Persistent cough: Cough [whether dry or with discharge] that lasts longer than a month and does not respond to regular medication should be investigated to rule out tuberculosis. Similarly, presence of blood in cough should be immediately treated. The blood could be from a chest infection or even from the stomach.
  8. Swelling in the feet or hands: Regular swelling of hands, feet or fingers in the morning could be due to a heart or a kidney disorder.

This was first published in the July 2012 issue of Complete Wellbeing magazine.

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