Speech disorder, blurred vision, or neck pain: these strange, even disturbing, sensations can be symptoms of a serious health condition. Here are 11 symptoms of illness you should know about.
1) Slurred speech
Suddenly making unintelligible remarks may signal a stroke. “The subject distorts or confuses words or is unable to understand what is being said,” said Dr. Leanna K. Casaubon, neurologist at the Toronto Western Hospital. Another symptom is sagging on one side of the face. If you think you have a stroke, call the emergency room quickly.
2) Flashes of light or increased floating bodies
As you age, it is not uncommon for vision to be hampered by floating bodies and flashes of light. These often harmless symptoms follow the transformation of the vitreous in the eye. But if the change is abrupt, the glare and the increase in the number of floating bodies may reflect a tear in the retina. This ocular emergency requires treatment within 24 to 48 hours. “Otherwise, the liquid may seep in tears and cause the retina to become detached, which can lead to blindness,” warns Dr. Lorne Bellan, head of the department of ophthalmology at the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg. .
3) Alteration of mental state
If you notice a sudden change in the behavior or intellectual functions of a loved one – even if a diagnosis of dementia has already been established – it is necessary to consult quickly. “Suddenly being very confused is not normal,” said Dr. Paul Pageau, former president of the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians. The symptom can be caused by a health problem that needs to be treated. It can also result from low blood sugar (in diabetics), electrolyte imbalance, or medication.
4) Blurred vision
Double or blurred vision, or vision that disappears in one eye, or loss of vision on one side only are possible signs of stroke. If the causes of a sudden change in vision are sometimes minor – a migraine with aura, for example – they can also be much more serious. “It can be a brain aneurysm that presses on the nerve responsible for eye movement,” says Dr. Bellan. This is usually manifested by a sudden split in vision. It is urgent to treat to prevent rupture of the aneurysm. “
5) Pressure in the jaw, neck or arms
Not all heart attack victims experience classic chest pain, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, and this is especially true of women. You may actually only experience pressure, discomfort, or pain in your arm, neck, jaw, or back. But these feelings can also have other causes, specifies Dr. Peter Bogaty of the Montreal Cardiology Clinic. “The heart, esophagus and organs in the thorax share a nervous network with the jaw and arms; it is not necessarily a heart symptom. But if the sensation is new, if it feels strange, and if it doesn’t go away after a few minutes, call for help.
6) Stiff neck and flu-like symptoms
In the early stages of meningitis, headaches and high fever suggest symptoms of seasonal flu. But those with infection of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord experience stiffness in the neck, which is painful when they try to press their chin against their chest. Some confusion and discomfort with the light can sometimes add to the clinical picture. “Bacterial meningitis can be fatal if left untreated quickly,” says Dr. Pageau. Each hour late in administering an appropriate antibiotic increases the risk of disability – and mortality. “
7) Chest pain
This is the most common symptom of infarction, which is often overlooked, says Dr. Bogaty. Indigestion, acid reflux and anxiety are certainly responsible for chest pain, but to be fixed, you have to go to the emergency room where different exams can be undertaken. “If it’s a severe heart attack, he’ll be treated right away.” This could prevent sudden death, ”added the doctor.
Tell your doctor if you have lost more than 5% of your body mass in 6 to 12 months, without this being voluntary. And make an appointment faster if there are other symptoms like pain, abdominal swelling or nausea. Weight loss is often associated with other conditions, including gastrointestinal, such as ulcer or celiac disease, or infection, thyroid problem, psychiatric disorder, or the side effect of a drug. Cancer is not to be dismissed either. “Delaying the diagnosis of cancer means risking it to a point where it is more difficult to contain,” said Monica Behl, chief medical officer and oncologist for the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency.
9) Redness under the skin
When surface bacteria like streptococci or staphylococci cross the skin barrier – often through a cut, crack, or insect bite – and contaminate deeper tissue, the infection can spread and lead to serious complications, even the death. “Diabetics are particularly at risk,” says Dr. Pageau. Antibiotics may need to be used if a hot, red patch stretches after a day or two or makes lines on the body. “If you don’t feel well or your condition gets worse quickly, go to the emergency room,” he suggests.
10) Dizziness or fainting
Temporary dizziness when getting up is often due to a drop in blood pressure. A simple physiological reaction in some is sometimes a sign of a more serious problem in others. If it is dehydration or the side effect of a medication, it is easy to correct. But “heart problems, infections and neurological disorders can also cause a drop in blood pressure,” said Dr. Brett Belchetz, an emergency room doctor in Toronto.
Dizziness sometimes signals anemia caused by heavy periods or gastrointestinal bleeding. Dizziness is most often associated with a middle ear problem. Make an appointment with a doctor – but check immediately if the sensation remains, even when you are not standing, or if the intensity of the dizziness is such that you cannot walk straight.
11) Blood in the urine or stool
Certain medicines and foods color the stool or urine; this is also true of mild conditions like hemorrhoids. But you should consult if you bleed for no known reason in the toilet bowl. It can be cancer, or many other health problems – bladder infection, kidney stone, anal fissure, inflammatory bowel disease …