Seven symptoms you should never ignore

Caroline Cassidy

The British stiff upper lip means many of us battle on when we are feeling unwell. But there are times when the signs point to a serious health problem - here are seven symptoms you should never ignore.

health symptoms you should never ignore
health symptoms you should never ignore

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Unexplained bleeding

Unusual bleeding in stools, urine, phlegm or vomit should not be ignored - the appearance of blood in any of the aforementioned could point to a serious health issue, most notably cancer of the colon, bladder, stomach or lungs. Though it may be caused by a minor health problem, it is essential that you see a doctor to rule out the possibility of anything major.

Sudden severe headaches
If you experience a sudden and unusually severe headache there may be cause for concern - blood vessel inflammation, brain tumours and aneurysms are all signalled by such pain and if accompanied by a fever, stiff neck and rash, these headaches could point to meningitis so it is important to seek medical help as soon as possible. Always seek advice too if you have recently suffered a head trauma - a severe headache may be a sign of bleeding in the brain.

Breathing difficulties
Shortness of breath is to be expected after exercise but if you have difficulty breathing whilst at rest, a number of issues could be the cause. Asthma and panic attacks or anxiety usually display such symptoms but it may also signal a heart attack or a blood clot in the lungs. For that reason it is advisable to speak to your GP.

Double vision, sudden numbness and slurred speech
The above are all signs of a stroke and the faster a victim is seen by doctors the better chance they have of a full recovery so it is absolutely essential to seek help immediately. Though the symptoms of a stroke may vary it is important to remember that they often come on very suddenly - double vision, a tingling sensation or numbness on one side of the face or body and slurred speech are all signs that a person is having a stroke.

Unexplained weight loss
If you or someone you know has lost a significant amount of weight over a short period of time (for instance a five per cent weight loss over the course of a month) without explanation seek your GP's advice. It could point to an overactive thyroid or depression but may equally be a sign that your body is battling cancer.

If you find a lump or bump under the skin that you had not noticed before, don't ignore it. Though the majority turn out to be harmless problems such as cysts, it is always worth checking with your doctor as it could be cancerous even if it is not painful. Women are advised to check their breasts regularly and men to check their testicles.

Persistent pain in the legs
Cramp in the legs after exercise or during sleep is relatively common and nothing to worry about. But if you experience a persistent and often severe pain in your leg it could be signal a blood clot. Swelling, redness and heat in the leg are also a sign as is a blue or white colouring of the skin.

Although it may turn out to be nothing serious, it's always worth seeing your doctor if you are at all concerned. Better safe than sorry!