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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

10 symptoms not to ignore

Mayo Clinic

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From the Mayo Clinic Staff handout 10 symptoms not to ignore

Take note of these warning signs and know when you need to seek medical care.
1. Unexplained weight loss

Losing weight when you’re not trying to may sound good, but in reality it can signal a health problem. If you’ve lost up 10 percent of your weight during the past six months — for instance, 15 pounds (7 kilograms) if you weigh 150 pounds (68 kilograms) — see your doctor.

An unexplained drop in weight could be caused by a number of conditions, such as an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), depression, liver disease, cancer or other noncancerous disorders, or disorders that interfere with how your body absorbs nutrients (malabsorption disorders).

2. Persistent or high fever

Fever isn’t an illness, but it is often a sign of one. Most of the time, a fever means your body is fighting a common viral or bacterial infection. However, a persistent low-grade fever — over 102 F (38.9 C) — that lasts for three days or more should be checked by your doctor. Similarly, if you have a high fever — greater than 104 F (40 C) — or if you’re otherwise severely ill, see your doctor as soon as possible.

If you have an immune system problem or take drugs that suppress your immune system, fever may not be a reliable warning sign. Ask your primary doctor or oncologist what would signal a need for an evaluation.

Persistent fever can signal hidden infections, which could be anything from a urinary tract infection to tuberculosis. At other times, malignant conditions — such as lymphomas — cause prolonged or persistent fevers, as can some medications.

3. Shortness of breath

Feeling short of breath — more than that caused by a stuffy nose or exercise — could signal an underlying health problem. If you’re unable to get your breath or you’re gasping for air or wheezing, seek emergency medical care. Feeling breathless when lying down, with or without exertion, also is a symptom that needs to be medically evaluated without delay.

Causes for breathlessness may include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, a blood clot in the lung (pulmonary embolism), as well as other heart and lung problems. Difficulty breathing can also occur with panic attacks, which are episodes of intense anxiety that cause physical symptoms……

April 20, 2011 - Posted by | Consumer Health

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