We all know someone who, at the first sign of a sniffle or tummy ache, runs to the doctor for a prescription. Then there are those on the other end of the spectrum who have to be dragged kicking and screaming to an emergency room for advanced treatment. Most of us fall somewhere in between but tend to wait a bit too long before admitting that we need help to diagnose or treat an illness. For those of us guilty of a “wait and see” mentality, here are 5 common health symptoms that may be more serious than you think and shouldn’t be ignored.
You’ve had a cough for more than three weeks.
The common cold typically lasts 1- to 14 days, but some can last as long as 21 days. One of the viruses that causes colds is RSV, a highly contagious upper respiratory illness that also causes bronchitis, pneumonia, croup, bronchiolitis and asthma. When you’ve had what you think is a cold and have been coughing for three weeks or longer, you should probably have it checked to rule out one of these more serious secondary infections.
Learn how to cough and sneeze without infecting others.
Your nose is kinda runny and some people think it’s funny but it’s snot.
Most people produce 1 to 1.5 liters of mucus a day even when they’re not sick. It’s useful for moisturizing passageways, blocking foreign invaders and transporting protective antibodies, enzymes and white blood cells. When you have a cold, flu or other upper respiratory illness, your mucus tends to thicken. But what you really need to be concerned about is the color and/or any odor. Yellow or green mucus could mean you have a sinus infection, especially if accompanied by headache, congestion, fever or pain and pressure in your face.
Learn how to tell what the color of mucus means.
Your blood pressure is 120/80.
A blood pressure reading of 120/80 used to be the gold standard of good health. But recently the American Heart Association revised its guidelines, putting nearly half of U.S. adults in the high blood pressure category, up from 33 percent. The goal of the change is to encourage earlier treatment with lifestyle changes and medication where appropriate. High blood pressure typically has no symptoms put puts you at increased risk for heart attack and stroke.
Here’s what to look for:
- Less than 120 systolic and 80 diastolic
- Between 120-129 systolic and less than 80 diastolic
- High Blood Pressure (Hypertension Stage 1)
- Between 130-139 systolic or between 80-89 diastolic
- High Blood Pressure (Hypertension Stage 2) =
- Between 140-180 systolic or between 90-120 diastolic
- Hypertensive Crisis (seek emergency medical help immediately)
- Higher than 180 systolic and/or higher than 120 diastolic
Learn how to recognize the signs of stroke.
You’re having stomach pain.
Abdominal pain is the No. 1 reason for emergency room visits — probably because it’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on in there. A ruptured appendix, diverticulitis, stomach flu, food poisoning, gallstones, kidney stones and cholecystitis are just a few of the possible diagnoses. See a doctor if the pain is severe, lasts for more than 24 hours or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as high fever, dehydration, bleeding, nausea and vomiting or other unusual signs.
Learn when to visit the ER with stomach pain.
You’re feeling sluggish, guilty, irritable, achy, impulsive or unfocused.
Having even just one of these common and seemingly mild symptoms could indicate depression. While most of us are quick to find other explanations for these signs, it’s important to talk to someone if you feel there might be something more. Consider also what time of year it is; people suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or social anxiety often have a harder time throughout the bleak winter months and during the busy, social holiday season.
Be aware that while the Netflix show “13 Reasons Why” highlighted teen suicide, suicide rates among older adults is increasing more rapidly. According to the CDC, depression is a true and treatable medical condition and not a normal part of aging. It’s important to get help for depression regardless of age.
For help with mental health issues or depression, call Medical City Green Oaks Hospital’s crisis line 24/7/365 at (972) 770-0818.
For fast, emergency help with these common health symptoms and more, look to one of our many Medical City ER locations across North Texas. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.