We all know someone who, at the first sign of a tummy ache or a sniffle, rushes to the doctor for a prescription. Then there are those who have to be dragged kicking and screaming to an emergency room for urgent treatment.
Most of us tend to fall somewhere in between but tend to wait a little too long before admitting that we need help. For those of us with the “wait and see” mentality, here are 4 common health symptoms that may be a little more severe than you think and shouldn’t be overlooked.
You’ve had a cough for more than three weeks.
The common cold typically lasts anywhere from 1- to 14 days, although some can last as long as 21 days. One of the viruses that cause colds is RSV, a highly contagious upper respiratory illness that also causes pneumonia, bronchitis, bronchiolitis, croup, and asthma. When you have been coughing for three weeks or longer, you should probably book yourself in for a check-up, to rule out one of these more serious secondary infections.
Your nose is runny.
Most people tend to produce 1 to 1.5 liters of mucus a day even when they’re not sick. It’s useful for moisturizing passageways, preventing foreign invaders and transporting protective antibodies, white blood cells, and enzymes.
When you have the flu, a cold, or other upper respiratory illness, your mucus will normally thicken. But what you need to be concerned about is the odor or color. Green or yellow mucus could mean you have a sinus infection, especially if accompanied by congestion, headache, fever or pain and pressure in your face.
Your blood pressure is 120/80.
A blood pressure reading of 120/80 used to be the standard of good health. However, recently the American Heart Association revised its guidelines, putting nearly half of U.S. adults in the high blood pressure category.
The goal of the change is to promote earlier treatment with lifestyle changes and medication where appropriate. High blood pressure typically has no symptoms but puts you at increased risk of a heart attack and stroke.
Here’s what to look for:
Standard = 80 diastolic and less than 120 systolic
Elevated = Less than 80 diastolic and between 120-129 systolic
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension Stage 1) = Between 80-89 diastolic or between 130-139 systolic
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension Stage 2) = Between 90-120 diastolic or between 140-180 systolic
Hypertensive Crisis (seek emergency medical help immediately) = Higher than 120 diastolic and/or higher than 180 systolic
You’re having stomach pain.
Abdominal pain is the No. 1 reason for emergency room visits — likely because it’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on in there. A ruptured appendix, stomach flu, diverticulitis, gallstones, kidney stones, food poisoning, and cholecystitis are just a few of the possible diagnoses. See a doctor if the pain lasts for more than 24 hours, if the pain is severe, or it's accompanied by other symptoms, such as high fever, bleeding, dehydration, nausea, vomiting or other unusual signs.
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