Today, people are living longer than ever after a cancer diagnosis due to improved cancer screenings. Routine screenings catch diseases earlier, when they are more straightforward to treat.
Noticing one of the following symptoms doesn’t mean you have cancer. But to be safe, talk to your doctor about these five signs and symptoms.
Unexplained Weight Loss
When you lose weight for no reason, call your doctor. A loss of 10 pounds or more could be nothing to worry about. However, in rare cases, it may be the first sign of cancer.
This isn’t fatigue similar to how you feel after a long day of work or play. Extreme fatigue that doesn’t get better with rest can be an early sign of cancer.
Cancer uses your body’s nutrients to grow and advance, so those nutrients are no longer replenishing your body. This “nutrient theft” can make you feel extremely tired.
There are lots of underlying causes of fatigue, many of them not cancer-related. If your symptoms are severe enough to affect your quality of life, call your doctor.
Fever can be a common symptom of colds and the flu, and clears up on its own.
Certain characteristics of recurring fever can foretell a possible cancer connection. You should pay particular attention if:
- A fever happens mostly at night.
- You have no other signs of infection.
- You experience night sweats.
Pain is another symptom that can be caused by a multitude of health issues, most of which are not cancer. But persistent pain, can also hint at an underlying disease.
Cancer can cause pain in different ways, including:
- A mass or tumor pushing on other areas of your body
- The chemicals a cancer releases
- Metastasis, or spreading from where a cancer started
If you’re experiencing pain that doesn’t go away — and you’re not sure where it came from — your doctor can help with the best next steps.
Our skin is the largest organ of our body and can be a window into our overall health. Jaundice (yellowing of eyes or fingertips) is one symptom that could suggest a possible infection or cancer. Contact your doctor if you notice any signs of jaundice.
Changes in moles can also be cause for concern. Call your doctor if a mole:
- Is asymmetrical, or has jagged edges
- Has irregular borders
- Changes color or gets darker
- Is large or growing
Major depression isn’t always easy to spot in yourself or someone you love. Use these clues to determine when treatment may be needed.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, you’re far from alone. In 2017 over 7 percent of U.S. adults — approximately 17.3 million people — had at least one major depressive episode, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. What’s more, a study published in September 2020 in the journal JAMA Network Open found that the prevalence of depression symptoms tripled in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Depression symptoms aren’t always as obvious as frequent crying and overwhelming despair. “Oftentimes the changes are subtle, and the person may not notice, but their friends and loved ones may,” says Boadie W. Dunlop, MD, director of the mood and anxiety disorders program in the psychiatry department at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.
There’s no one pattern to depression, and the condition can vary in progression from person to person. Symptoms may gradually go from mild, such as choosing to stay home to watch TV instead of going out for a walk with a friend, to more severe, such as not even getting out of bed to shower or persistent thoughts of suicide. Others may quickly progress from their usual state to a severe depressive episode.
“Depression symptoms are particularly troubling if someone displays more than one or if they persist for more than two weeks,” says Simon Rego, PsyD, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the chief psychologist at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York.
To help you recognize depression that warrants concern, whether in yourself or a loved one, here are eight depression symptoms — some of which you might even find surprising — that you shouldn’t ignore.
- Trouble sleeping Although depression can sap energy and motivation during the day, a person may often lie awake at night, unable to sleep, says Sarah Altman, PhD, a clinical psychologist in the department of psychiatry and behavioral health at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. On the other hand, some people with depression may find it difficult to get out of bed and may sleep for long periods during the day.
- Loss of interest in favorite activities Some people turn to hobbies they enjoy when they feel blue, but those with major depression tend to avoid them, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA). If you or someone you know usually loves to garden but can’t muster the energy to go outside, let alone work in the yard, that can be a red flag.
- Increase in energy Ironically, when depressed people have made a decision to do something drastic, such as killing themselves, they may go from slowed down to far more energetic. That’s because they feel a sense of relief in having come to a resolution, so if you notice a drastic change like this in someone you love, it’s a big cause for concern. This can also manifest as reckless behavior — particularly in men — such as indulging in risky sexual behavior, overspending, or abusing substances, such as alcohol or drugs, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).
- Change in appetite Some people overeat when they’re depressed or anxious, but in people with severe depression, the opposite is usually true. “A depressed person may stop eating because he or she is no longer concerned with physical well-being,” says John Whyte, MD, MPH, a board-certified internist in Washington, DC, and the author of Is This Normal?: The Essential Guide to Middle Age and Beyond. “Disregard for personal hygiene is also cause for concern,” Dr. Whyte adds.
- Feeling or seeming on edge “In many people, depression can manifest with irritability, impatience, or anxiety and worry. Women are especially prone to anxiety symptoms along with depression,” says Diane Solomon, PhD, CNM, a psychiatric nurse practitioner in Portland, Oregon. Trouble concentrating is another related symptom.
- Expressions of guilt Feeling excessive guilt or worthlessness can also be a hallmark of depression, according to the APA. People might feel guilty because they are depressed or aren’t doing enough at home or at work.
- Unexplained physical symptoms Since the body and mind are connected, depression can also start to manifest in physical ways that are resistant to treatment, such as persistent headaches, digestive issues, or unexplained pain, according to the ADAA.
- An emerging dark side A person who is severely depressed may become preoccupied with death and other morose topics, the APA notes. For example, they may talk about what things will be like “after I am gone” and may also become more likely to take uncalculated risks.
The Next Step: Getting Help
If you notice any of these serious depression symptoms in yourself or someone you love, reach out and get help. In most people, even major depression is a very treatable disorder, with a wide range of medications and therapies that have been proven to work, according to the APA.
If Your Loved One Has Symptoms
- Encourage your loved one to seek professional help. If your loved one is considering harming themselves or having other dark thoughts, immediate treatment is critical. Go to the nearest emergency room or contact a local mental health provider. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 (TALK).
- Create a safe environment. “If the person expresses suicidal thoughts, remove any potentially lethal items from the home, such as guns,” Dr. Dunlop says.
- Be kind. “Blaming or chastising depressed people for feeling low or unmotivated is not helpful and typically serves to reinforce negative feelings they already have,” Dunlop says. “Instead, open the discussion in a nonjudgmental way and encourage the person to seek help.”
- Be willing to support treatment. Offer to help your loved one prepare a list of questions for a provider about depression or drive them to appointments.
If You’re Experiencing Symptoms
- Recognize if you’re starting to slip. If you are struggling with new or worsening symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek help. If you already have a therapist, reach out to them right away. If you do not have one, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for a free, confidential referral for treatment. If you’re considering harming yourself, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 (TALK).
- Ignore incorrect attitudes. The old idea of “pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps” is not only outdated, but also not based in science. “If you feel depressed, there is no cause for guilt,” says Dr. Solomon.
Many organizations also have online resources for depression. These include:
Additional Reporting by Erica Patino
Last updated August 1, 2020
In an effort to stay safe from coronavirus, many of us have put off the annual screenings and check-ups where cancers are often caught. That’s understandable. Still, early detection is one of the best weapons against the disease.
Screenings can detect a cancer before symptoms appear. You too can pick up on early warning signs by paying close attention to changes in your body. If you notice something new or different that lasts several weeks – and several weeks is key – reach out to your health care provider. Not every symptom that could be cancer is cancer. But here are 17 symptoms that may warrant a call to your doctor:
1. Abnormal periods or pelvic pain
Most women have the occasional irregular period or cramps. But persistent pain or changes in your cycle can be a sign of cervical, uterine or ovarian cancer.
2. Changes in bathroom habits
Significant changes in bodily functions can indicate colon, prostate or bladder cancer, among other cancers. Warning signs include persistent constipation or diarrhea; black or red blood in your stool; black, tarry stools; more frequent urination; and blood in your urine.
We all feel bloated now and then. But bloating for more than two weeks can be a sign of ovarian cancer, as well as various gastrointestinal cancers.
4. Breast changes
These include a new lump, dimpling, discoloring, changes around the nipple or unusual discharge that you didn’t have before. Although most breast cancer occurs in women, men can develop it too.
5. Chronic coughing
A cough that persists for more than two weeks, especially a dry cough, can be a sign of lung cancer.
6. Chronic headache
A headache that lasts more than two weeks and doesn’t respond to the usual medications can be caused by a brain tumor.
7. Difficulty swallowing
If you feel as though food is getting stuck in your throat or you have trouble swallowing for more than two weeks, this can be a sign of throat, lung or stomach cancer.
8. Excessive bruising
A bruise on the shin from bumping into the coffee table is normal. But suddenly getting a lot of bruises in unusual places that haven’t been bumped can indicate various blood cancers.
9. Frequent fevers or infections
Spiking a fever over and over, or going from one infection to the next can indicate an immune system that’s been rendered more susceptible by lymphoma or leukemia.
10. Oral changes
Persistent sores or lesions or painful areas in the mouth, especially in people who smoke or drink heavily, can indicate various oral cancers.
11. Skin changes
A shift in the appearance of a mole or birthmark should be assessed by a health care provider, either in person or through a video visit. To remember which changes are cause for concern, use this easy mnemonic, ABCDE.
Asymmetry: One half of the mole or mark doesn’t look like the other.
Border: The edges are irregular or blurred.
Color: It’s varied or inconsistent, both black and brown.
Diameter: It’s larger than the size of a pencil eraser.
Evolving: This refers to any mole that grows, bleeds or otherwise changes over time.
12. Pain that lasts
Persistent pain anywhere in your body that has no clear cause and doesn’t respond to standard treatments should be evaluated.
13. Persistent fatigue
A sudden, lasting change in your energy level, no matter how much sleep you’ve been getting, can be a sign of leukemia or lymphoma.
14. Postmenopausal bleeding
There are a number of reasons for this, but if it persists, your doctor may want to check for cervical or uterine cancer.
15. Stomach pain or nausea
Unusual discomfort that lasts more than two weeks can be a warning sign of liver, pancreatic or various digestive system cancers.
16. Unexplained weight loss
Weight fluctuates. But the loss of pounds when you’re not trying, or the loss of your appetite, can indicate many types of cancers, especially ones that have spread.
17. Unusual lumps
Any new lump or mass that doesn’t go away should be evaluated. Lymph nodes often become swollen when you have a cold, but if the swelling persists after you’re well, you should contact your doctor.
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.
Looking ahead and conquering burnout
Even before the global pandemic, we were dealing with a different health crisis—burnout. By 2018, Gallup reported that organizations faced a burnout crisis, and by May 2019, the World Health Organization classified burnout as an official medical diagnosis.
With the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic, along with the continued blurring of the boundaries between our work and home lives, burnout continues to be on the rise. A Limeade study found 72% of employees say they are burned out, which is a sharp increase from the 42% who said the same in their pre-pandemic Employee Care Report.
Here’s what you need to know about what burnout is, how to tell if it’s happening to you, and five ways to combat it.
Where Burnout Comes From
While burnout is a reaction to prolonged stress, all stress is not bad. We need some stress in our lives. Think about when you’re learning something new, or you’re engaged in a task that energizes you, brings out your talents, and keeps you focused. The right amount of stress helped you perform at your best. On the other end of the spectrum, we all know that when we’re faced with threats to our safety, our body goes into fight, flight, or freeze mode. At these times, our stress response and the stress hormones released are a good thing because it is what helps us survive.
We’re built for our stress response to go off only for short periods so our bodies can find the balance between responding to the stressors we face and the rest and renewal we need. The problem we face today is that we are living in a fast-paced, highly interconnected world where we’re expected to be “on” 24/7, so it’s hard to know when our work life ends and our home life begins. On top of that, the pandemic is not a short-term crisis. In the early days of COVID-19, we mustered all of the strength, energy, and focus we needed to figure out this new terrain and our new work and home “normal.” However, we’re not equipped to live in this state of constant stress. Our bodies are spending too much time in this extreme without the ability to recover. We have exceeded our surge capacity. Our Surge capacity, according to Dr. Ann Masten, “ is a collection of adaptive systems — mental and physical — that humans draw on for short-term survival in acutely stressful situations, such as natural disasters.” When we exceed our capacity for constant stress, that is when we move to burnout.
Signs of Burnout
Many people experience a three-way, mind-body shutdown: emotional exhaustion, physical fatigue, and cognitive weariness. A sense of numbness and cynicism can set in, physical symptoms like headaches and pain, and even withdrawing from our close relationships. For example, new data from Limeade shows that since the COVID-19 pandemic started, 49% of employees reported less energy for non-work activities, 42% are less interested in socializing with friends, 42% have more trouble sleeping at night, and 33% are experiencing more alcohol or substance use than usual.
When your immune system is grappling with a disease, that fight requires energy. So it’s probably not surprising that almost any disease you can name has fatigue listed among its symptoms.
“Fatigue may be the most common symptom people report, and in and of itself it can’t point you toward a diagnosis,” says Roxanne Sukol, MD, a preventive medicine specialist at Cleveland Clinic.
Also complicating matters: “There are so many different ways to measure fatigue,” says Anne Cappola, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania’s Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism. “Does it mean you’re sleeping more? Or can’t exercise as long as you used to? Or don’t have energy at the end of the day?”
Fatigue comes in different flavors. “There’s physical fatigue, but also emotional fatigue and psychological fatigue,” she says. “People underestimate the effects of psychological stress on energy levels, but in retrospect, after that stress is gone, they realize that was making them so tired.”
Whenever a patient sees Cappola for fatigue, she says she talks with them about reasonable expectations. “Our society builds this belief that you should be on the run all the time, but that’s not sustainable for many of us,” she says. “If your schedule’s changed or you haven’t been sleeping enough or something else is going on, feeling tired is natural.”
All those caveats aside, there are a number of diseases for which fatigue is the dominant symptom. Here are 8 of them, plus the associated symptoms that can help you identify one from another. (Lose up to 25 pounds in 2 months—and look more radiant than ever—with the new Younger in 8 Weeks plan!)
Cappola says this is one of the two fatigue-related conditions she sees most often. Your thyroid is a small gland located at the base of your neck that regulates everything from your energy levels to your metabolism and immune function. Thyroid issues are also common; 11 million people in the U.S. suffer from hypothyroidism.
While a lack of energy tends to be the first and most prominent symptom of an underactive thyroid, weight gain, constipation, dry skin, and feeling cold all the time are associated symptoms to watch out for. “I would also look for skin with a doughy appearance,” which comes from a thyroid-related imbalance in skin chemistry, Sukol says.
In this Article
- Weakness in Your Arms and Legs
- Chest Pain
- Tenderness and Pain in the Back of Your Lower Leg
- Blood in Your Urine
- Suicidal Thoughts
Most aches and pains are rarely a big deal. But there are a few critical symptoms that you should have checked out as soon as possible. See your doctor if you have any of these things.
Weakness in Your Arms and Legs
If you get numb or weak in your leg, arm, or face, it could be a sign of a stroke. It’s especially important if it’s on one side of your body or if it comes on without warning.
You could also be having a stroke if you feel dizzy, can’t keep your balance, or find it hard to walk. You may also have a sudden bad headache, can’t see well, or have problems talking or understanding.
Don’t wait to see if symptoms stop. Get emergency help right away, because every moment counts. If you get a drug to break up the clot within 4.5 hours after symptoms start, you’ll lower your chances of long-term problems.
If you have heart-related issues like high blood pressure or atrial fibrillation, pay close attention to these symptoms. If you have these conditions, youвЂ™re more likely to have a stroke. Learn more about how some arm problems can be related to your heart.
We’ve all felt chest pain in some form, whether it’s a dull throb or a sharp stab. Because it can be a sign of a serious problem, it’s important to get medical help right away. Chest pain or pressure can be a sign of a heart attack or heart disease, especially if it happens when youвЂ™re active.
People who’ve had heart-related pain describe it as a burning, full, or tight feeling in the chest. It’s sometimes a searing sensation in one or both arms that can move up into the neck, jaw, and shoulders. The discomfort can last for more than a few minutes, get worse when you’re active, go away, and then come back.
Often, chest pain doesn’t have anything to do with your heart. It could be due to things like heartburn or other digestive issues.
Don’t try to tough it out or wait for it to go away. See a doctor right away if you have new or unexplained pain in your chest. Learn more about other causes of chest pain.
Tenderness and Pain in the Back of Your Lower Leg
This can be a sign of a blood clot in your leg. It’s called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). It can happen when you have a condition that affects how your blood clots. You can also get one if youвЂ™ve been sitting or confined to bed for a long time. Pregnancy, using birth control pills, smoking, and being overweight also can make it more likely.
If you have a clot, you might feel pain or tenderness. The area might be swollen. Your skin might feel warm, or it could look red.
It isnвЂ™t uncommon to be sore after exercise, but get medical help if you notice swelling, warmth, and redness. DVT can be serious. Blood clots in your legs can break off, travel through your bloodstream, and block blood flow to your lungs. Doctors call this a pulmonary embolism, and it can be deadly. Learn more about blood clot symptoms and how to tell if you have one.
Blood in Your Urine
There are several reasons you might see blood when you pee.
If you have kidney stones, blood can make your urine pink or reddish. These small crystals that form in your urine can cause a lot of pain in your side or your back.
Your doctor may take a CT scan or do an ultrasound to see them. Some kidney stones will pass on their own, but the wait can be painful. You might need a procedure to break up larger ones.
If you see blood in your urine, have to pee more often, or have a burning sensation when you go, you may have a urinary tract infection in your bladder or kidney. Get help right away. This condition can lead to kidney damage and more serious problems.
Blood in your urine can sometimes also be a sign of other illnesses, including bladder or kidney cancer. Learn more about bladder cancer symptoms.
If you hear a whistling sound when you breathe, contact your doctor.В Wheezing could be a sign of asthma, a lung disease, a severe allergic reaction, or exposure to chemicals. It could also signal pneumonia or bronchitis.
Treatment depends on the cause. For example, ifВ asthmaвЂ™s to blame, an inhaler could be part of your treatment plan to stop flare-ups.В Learn more about the causes of wheezing.
If you feel hopeless, like there’s no way to solve your problems, reach out for help right away. It can make you feel better to talk to a trained counselor.
Call 911 or a suicide hotline number. In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255). It’s free and available 24 hours a day. It’s private, so you can feel comfortable talking about how you feel.
You can also walk into an emergency room or walk-in clinic and ask for help. A doctor or counselor can refer you to a professional who can help. Learn more about the warning signs of suicide.
UCSF Health: “Stroke Signs and Symptoms.”
Rush University Medical Center: “10 Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore.”
Mayo Clinic: “Stroke,” “Chest Pain,” “Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT),” “Suicide and suicidal thoughts.”
Cleveland Clinic: “Atrial Fibrillation (Afib),” “Wheezing.”
American Heart Association: “Symptoms and Diagnosis of Venous Thromboembolism (VTE).”
National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: ” Hematuria (Blood in the Urine),” “Kidney Infection.”
UpToDate: “Kidney stones in adults (Beyond the Basics).”
New rash? Blurry vision? Chest pain? Learn to recognize early signs that RA may be affecting new parts of your body.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own joints and tissues, causing pain and inflammation. RA is described as a progressive disease, because it can get worse with time; without adequate treatment, this can lead to problems throughout the body. The inflammation caused by RA can also damage your heart, lungs, and blood vessels, leading to serious complications. Over time, the risk of developing health complications related to RA increases.
Take Note When RA Symptoms Improve — or Worsen
When you have RA, it’s important to stay on top of the disease, your symptoms, and potential signs that complications are developing. You know your body better than anyone else, and you will be the first to notice hints that a new symptom may be brewing. While it can be natural to want to downplay or minimize new joint stiffness, swelling, or pain that could indicate a complication, there is a real benefit to paying attention to new developments and taking action sooner rather than later.
Talk to Your Doctor When You Experience a New Symptom
If you are attentive to worsening symptoms, such as morning stiffness changes in terms of severity, duration, frequency, or intensity, you may be better prepared to describe and discuss any changes or side effects with your rheumatologist.
Want more real-life tips for managing RA symptoms? Check out Tippi.
Help Preserve Your Health by Tuning Into It
What can you do to stay ahead of RA? Be aware of the symptoms to look out for, so you can avoid lasting joint damage and disability later on. Here are a few to keep an eye on.
Joint pain and swelling RA can affect any joint in the body, but it most commonly strikes the hands (including the knuckles and middle joints of the fingers), wrists, feet, and knees, says David Stephen Pisetsky, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine in the department of immunology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, and past president of the United States Bone and Joint Initiative. Affected joints can be warm, achy, stiff, or tender to the touch. But if pain and other symptoms in your joints persist despite treatment, it might be a sign of a complication.
“RA therapy directly targets inflamed joints, so if joint pain is persistent despite treatment, call your doctor,” Dr. Pisetsky says. “There is also a special concern if one joint is far, far more painful or swollen than the others and gets red or tender when touched.” This could signal an infection, and you should reach out to your rheumatologist right away if this occurs, he stresses.
Extreme fatigue “Extreme fatigue is a hallmark of RA,” Pisetsky says. If your joints seem to get better with treatment but pain and fatigue persist, it could be a sign of depression, a common complication of RA, he adds. Talk with your doctor about a referral to a mental health specialist if your pain and fatigue persist even after starting RA treatment.
Persistent cough The inflammation that comes with RA also affects other parts of the body, including your lungs. In fact, RA-related lung complications are among the most common manifestations of RA outside the joints, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
“RA can involve the lungs and cause chest tightness and coughing,” Pisetsky says. “If you are on biologics to treat RA, there’s also concern about infection, which can cause a persistent cough.” A cough that lasts longer than a week should be evaluated by a healthcare professional, especially if it’s accompanied by a fever and you feel sick, he adds.
A persistent cough and shortness of breath could also be a sign of interstitial lung disease, another common complication of RA that causes inflammation and scarring in the lungs, which can make it difficult to breathe.
Chest pain or shortness of breath People who have RA are also more likely to develop heart disease, according to the Arthritis Foundation. “If you have RA and experience chest pain or shortness of breath, get it checked out,” Pisetsky advises. It could be a sign of a heart attack or heart disease. To lower your risk for heart disease, he recommends maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and keeping your cholesterol and blood pressure down.
Numbness or trouble with balance Although it is less common today, thanks to improved treatment options, RA can affect the spine, causing “numbness and balance issues,” Pisetsky notes. But these can also be symptoms of diabetic nerve damage. As people with RA are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes, this can be an all-too-common complication. Proper treatment of both RA and diabetes can help.
Skin rash A rash could be a drug reaction or a sign that the disease is progressing outside the joints, says John M. Davis, III, MD, a rheumatologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Red eyes, blurry vision, or eye pain These symptoms can indicate inflammation in the eye, and they need attention, says Dr. Davis. Another potential RA-related eye risk is retinal detachment, where the retina is lifted from its normal position. This is considered an emergency, because if it’s not promptly treated, it can lead to permanent vision loss, according to the National Eye Institute.
The Bottom Line on Changing Symptoms
“The better your RA is controlled, the less likely these signs are to occur,” Davis says. “But identifying them early can also help stave off long-term consequences in and outside of the joints.” That’s why it’s important to work closely with your doctor to control your RA and maintain good health.
Additional reporting by Erica Patino
When the brain fog lasts for days
It’s that time of year when of half of your office are too germ-ridden to brave the commute into work, the threat of the flu hangs in the air and your hand sanitiser becomes as precious as your final un-snagged pair of tights.
But, if you have fallen victim to a stomach bug, you may be wondering why you still feel depleted, woozy and weird for days after it’s technically cleared off.
Qasim Aziz, professor of neurogastroenterology at the London Digestive Centre (an institution we can only assume is filled with confused biscuit fans) explains: ‘Developing gastroenteritis can be due to both viral and bacterial infections.
These external ‘bugs’ compete with your gut microbiome for the local resources available for survival. Once the intrinsic bacteria are lost, all the healthy functions they usually perform – including regulation of sensation, movement and your immune system – can be disrupted.’ And that includes the gut-brain connection.
‘Your gut can signal up to your brain via your metabolic, nervous and endocrine systems, so any changes occurring in the gut lead to reciprocal changes in the brain, and vice versa,’ adds Professor Aziz.
Published on January 25, 2021 Updated on May 4, 2021
Health Check Certified By: Patty Weasler, RN
It’s normal to experience changes as you get older which is why it’s easy to ignore unusual symptoms. That said some symptoms should never be ignored. In fact, some physical symptoms can be a sign of a more serious health condition which is why you should discuss sudden changes with your doctor.
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Seeking medical attention is essential for diagnosing serious health problems early. Not only will this help you determine the cause and a treatment plan, but it may also help prevent long-term complications. Here are 10 physical symptoms seniors should never ignore.
Sudden Confusion or Memory Loss
According to the National Institute on Aging, “Forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging.” It’s normal to misplace your glasses or forget which word to use on occasion. That said, sudden confusion or changes in your memory is not normal and could mean there is a serious underlying issue.
Sudden confusion or memory loss could indicate dehydration, anoxia (loss of oxygen supply to your body or brain), brain tumor, a reaction to a medication, urinary tract infection, thyroid problems, or other infections. The good news is that many of these conditions are treatable, but make sure you don’t ignore these symptoms and see a doctor straight away.
Abnormal Skin Lesions
Be wary of abnormal skin lesions and moles. If any skin lesions ooze, cause you pain, or don’t heal, may be cancerous. Other symptoms of cancerous skin lesions include dark, irregular borders, flat with a crusted surface, a pearly or waxy bump, or a brown scar-like appearance.
It’s important to examine your skin regularly and don’t forget to think about the ABCDE’s when examining:
- Asymmetry meaning one half is different from the appearance of the other.
- Border irregularly meaning the edges around the lesion are notched, blurred, or ragged.
- Color meaning you should inspect the color and be on the lookout for uniform pigmentation.
- Diameter meaning the size is greater than 6mm (1/4-inch).
- Evolution meaning is there a change in size, shape, surface, color, or symptoms?
Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath can have you feeling like you just climbed several flights of stairs or performed a workout. Ultimately, you may feel like you’re struggling to draw a full breath. While it isn’t always a sign of a severe illness, this symptom should never be ignored.
Shortness of breath can sometimes be an early sign of partial (or complete) blockage of an artery. This can cause a heart attack. Make sure you speak with your doctor immediately if you are experiencing unusual or chronic shortness of breath. And make sure you seek emergency care if you also feel dizzy and pressure and/or tightness in your chest.