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Signs Your Symptoms are "Something Serious," Warn Physicians

Five signs you shouldn't ever ignore, doctor says. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

When it comes to our overall health, there's countless things that can go wrong at a moment's notice and sometimes there are undeniable warning signals like chest pain, but oftentimes subtle signs are overlooked. While they may seem like it's not a big deal, it could be a sign of something bigger that needs medical attention. So how do you know when it's a serious health issue? When should you see a doctor? Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Tomi Mitchell, a Board-Certified Family Physician with Holistic Wellness Strategies who shares symptoms that shouldn't be ignored and why. As always please speak with your physician for medical advice.  Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Honestly is the Best Policy

couple listening to doctor in his office

Dr. Mitchell shares, "I have seen thousands of patients with severe symptoms, and when they present with certain symptoms, I am highly concerned. Physicians are programmed to quickly assess the situation and ask supporting questions to find possible causes. I believe honesty is the best policy, and when patients have very concerning symptoms, I let them know in advance that I am concerned. With anything, I hope for the best and prepare for the worse, and I let the patient know.

In my experience as a medical professional, I have found that it is essential to be honest with patients right from the start. When patients come to me with symptoms of concern, I explain everything in detail and let them know what we need to do to address the issue. This approach helps put patients at ease and makes them more likely to keep their appointments. Also, this allows them time to create your support network and put certain things in their life in order.  By being upfront and honest about the situation, we can work together to ensure that the problem is dealt with promptly and effectively.

If you go to the doctor with a new or concerning symptom, likely, your doctor will immediately set you up with a series of diagnostic tests(labs, x-rays, CT scans, etc.) and urgent referrals to other specialties. This can be overwhelming, but it is essential to remember that the sooner a diagnosis is made, the sooner treatment can begin. So if you are in this situation, try to stay calm and follow your doctor's instructions. It may be a lot to handle all at once, but with the help of professionals, you will get through it. If you present with any of the following symptoms, you must consult your doctor as soon as possible.

 Your body is a fantastic machine constantly working to keep you healthy. However, sometimes things can go wrong, and it's essential to be aware of the signs that something is seriously wrong. This isn't an exhaustive list. However, it includes some of the more common symptoms associated with severe medical conditions. Here are five signs to watch out for."


Sudden and Severe Pain

stomach pain

Dr. Mitchell tells us, "Sudden pain is often a sign that something is wrong with the body. It can be a sign of injury, infection, or disease. Pain signals the body to alert the brain that something is wrong and needs to be fixed. Without pain, we would not be able to survive. It motivates us to take action to protect ourselves from further harm. Sudden pain can also signify something more serious, such as a heart attack or stroke. If you experience sudden pain, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately. The delay could result in permanent damage or even death. While some sudden pain causes are not severe, it is always best to avoid caution and have a doctor check it out."


Shortness of Breath

Young woman suffering from breathing problem near window indoors.

Dr. Mitchell says, "Shortness of breath is a common symptom of many different medical conditions. It can be caused by something as simple as anxiety or exertion, or it can signify a more serious problem, such as a heart condition. In general, shortness of breath accompanied by other symptoms, such as chest pain or dizziness, is more likely to indicate a serious problem. For example, if you experience shortness of breath regularly, or if it occurs suddenly and without explanation, it is essential to see a doctor as soon as possible. With prompt treatment, many underlying causes of shortness of breath can be effectively managed."


Unusual Bleeding

open the bathroom door, go to toilet

According to Dr. Mitchell, "Bleeding is a sign that something is wrong with you when it occurs at an abnormal time or in an abnormal amount. Your body has many mechanisms to prevent bleeding; when these mechanisms are not working correctly, you may experience bleeding. Many factors can contribute to abnormal bleeding, including blood disorders, hormonal imbalances, medications, and injuries. If you experience abnormal bleeding, it is essential to see a healthcare provider to determine and treat the cause appropriately. Occasionally, irregular bleeding may signify a serious condition requiring immediate medical attention. Therefore, if you experience any unusual bleeding, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately.

While some bleeding is normal, certain signs can be cause for concern. Please note that this list is not exhaustive, so make sure you discuss it with your doctor for medical advice. If you experience any of the following, it is essential to seek medical attention:

* bright red blood in your stool

* black or tarry-looking stool

* bloody vomit or vomit that looks like coffee grounds

* coughing up or spitting up blood

* rectal bleeding

* severe abdominal pain

* unexpected and prolonged bleeding from cuts or wounds

* heavy menstrual bleeding in women with a history of heavy periods

* vaginal bleeding in women who are menopausal

* bleeding during pregnancy"


Changes in Bowel Habits

man prostate cancer, premature, ejaculation, fertility, bladder problem

"A change in bowel habit, defined as a difference from an individual's typical pattern of three or more bowel movements per week, can signify something serious going on," Dr. Mitchell states. "The most common cause of a change in bowel habit is an infection, such as food poisoning or a stomach virus. However, other reasons include changes in diet or medications, stress, and some medical conditions. If an infection is the cause, symptoms typically resolve within a week. However, if the cause is unknown or persistent, it's essential to see a doctor as soon as possible. Blood in the stool, severe abdominal pain, and weight loss are all potential red flags that warrant further investigation. Bowel problems can be uncomfortable and embarrassing, but your doctor has likely heard it all before. Don't delay seeking help if you're concerned about a change in your bowel habits."


Unexplained Weight Loss

weight fluctuates

Dr. Mitchell explains, "Losing weight can be good if you're trying to improve your health. But sometimes, weight loss happens without changing diet or exercise habits. If this happens to you, it could signify a serious health condition. Cancer is one possible cause of unexplained weight loss. Cancer cells use up a lot of energy, leading to weight loss. Other signs of cancer include fatigue, pain, and changes in appetite. See your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms as soon as possible. With early detection and treatment, many diseases can be managed effectively. So don't wait to see a doctor if you're experiencing unexplained weight loss.

Remember, these are just five possible signs that something may be wrong – if you have any concerns about your health, it's always best to see your doctor."

Dr. Mitchell says this "doesn't constitute medical advice and by no means are these answers meant to be comprehensive. Rather, it's to encourage discussions about health choices."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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