Feet burning? Back aching? Suffering from the worst headache of your life? Experts explain which symptoms require immediate medical attention.
As a working adult, it's normal to feel the occasional aches and pains over the course of a busy day. But if you find yourself pushing through everyday shifts in pain, continuously telling yourself, “If I don't feel better by tomorrow, then I'll call a doctor,” check this out. WebMD consulted doctors in cardiology, internal medicine, geriatrics, and psychiatry to find out what types of pain require prompt medical attention. And what they say may surprise you. Think your sore calves are from a full schedule of wellness exams? Maybe. But it may be something more. Take a look at these seven symptoms you shouldn't ignore.
Your head may be splitting from too much coffee-or not enough. Or it could be from the boarded Yorkie who won't stop barking. It could be allergies, or even a sinus infection. But if your headache goes into overdrive, seek medical attention immediately. Sharon Brangman, MD, spokeswoman for the American Geriatrics Society tells WebMD that it's a classic sign of a brain aneurysm. It can also signal a brain hemorrhage or tumor.
Often misinterpreted as heartburn or GI distress, chest discomfort with nausea is associated with heart disease. Discomfort or pressure in the throat, jaw, shoulder, arm, or abdomen could also indicate heart conditions and should be checked out immediately. Do not wait for chest pain to start, as that could be pneumonia or a heart attack.
3. Lower back pain
Lifting dogs up and on to the exam room table can do a number on your back. Besides the occasional pulled muscle, a sore lower back may point to arthritis, abdominal problems, or an aortic dissection. If you have a history of high blood pressure, circulatory problems, diabetes or smoke, don't wait to see a doctor.
4. Severe abdominal pain
Did a walk-in cut your lunch short, only leaving you time to inhale a burger and fries in between appointments? That may be the cause of an upset stomach, but if antacids aren't doing the trick, talk to a doctor. Severe abdominal pain is associated with appendicitis, ulcers, intestinal blockages, and problems with one's gallbladder or pancreas.
5. Calf pain
Eight hours or more on your feet can make anyone's calves ache. But sore calves shouldn't be ignored. You may be one of the 2 million Americans affected each year by deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT refers to blood clots that can occur in the leg's deep veins and break loose, causing pulmonary embolisms, which are fatal. If you have pain or swelling in you calf muscles, see a doctor immediately.
6. Burning feet or legs
Burning or pins-and-needles sensation in the feet or legs may mean diabetes. Nearly one-quarter of the 24 million Americans who have diabetes are undiagnosed, according to the American Diabetes Association. And peripheral neuropathy is a common sign in undiagnosed diabetics.
7. Random pains
If you have medically unexplained aches all over, or a combination of the signs above, you may be suffering from depression. Various painful physical symptoms that are hard to describe are common in depressed people. If you've lost interest in activities and are unable to work or think effectively, consult a physician about depression.
Pain is your body's way of saying something's wrong. So if you hurt, seek help. Too worried about missing work? Just think about how much work you'll miss if your small ache turns into big trouble.