Due to the coronavirus, our health has become a major concern over the past year, and yet visits to the doctor are declining, as patients stay at home and fear exposure. “There has been a drop in patients getting essential tests over the past year, to their detriment,” says Dr. Deborah Lee, a doctor based in the UK. “There are some things you just should not put off. If you spot disease earlier, the better your chances of getting better from it.” Read on for a list of danger signs that require a medical professional, to see if you have any—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.
See Your Doctor if You Have Trouble Breathing
“Many serious health conditions can cause breathing problems including asthma, a severe allergic reaction, pneumonia, COPD, heart disease, and a blood clot to the lungs,” says Leann Poston, MD. “If you have shortness of breath, especially at rest, or any signs of hypoxia, blueness to fingers or lips, call for emergency help.” Trouble breathing can also indicate you have COVID-19.
See Your Doctor if You Are Vomiting or Coughing Up Large Amounts of Blood
“Large amounts of blood, not a tinge or streak in mucus or a bloody nose, can be due to a bleeding ulcer, damage to a blood vessel, or a severe lung infection,” says Dr. Poston. “Call for emergency help especially if you are dizzy when standing or have symptoms or signs of shock.”
See Your Doctor You Have a Breast Lump
“A breast cancer can feel firm or solid and often irregular in shape. They are not usually painful, but pain does not mean it isn’t a breast cancer,” says Crystal Fancher, MD, surgical breast oncologist at the Margie Petersen Breast Center. “It’s impossible to diagnose breast cancer just by touch, so if you feel anything abnormal or notice any changes to your breasts, please talk to your doctor.” “Whatever you feel is not the usual you, should be pursued to your intellectual and emotional comfort level,” says Richard Reitherman, MD, Ph.D., medical director of breast imaging at MemorialCare Breast Center. “This may take the form of follow up imaging examinations and doctors’ visits or a biopsy or consultation with a specialist, such as a breast surgeon.”
See Your Doctor if You Have a Sudden Onset of Flank Pain
“Sudden onset of flank pain (the area just below the backside of the rib cage) may indicate that a kidney stone is on the move. This kind of pain is usually cramping or sharp and may wax and wane,” says S. Adam Ramin, MD, urologic surgeon and medical director of Urology Cancer Specialists. “It can also radiate from the back to the front of the abdomen all the way down to the groin. The pain is associated with nausea, vomiting as well as blood in the urine.”
See Your Doctor if You Feel Scrotum Changes
“Encouraging the men in your life to do a monthly testicular self-exam is the best way to bring attention to painless symptoms like a change in the size of one testicle, a painless bump or lump, or fluid gathering around the scrotum,” says Dr. Ramin. “Other symptoms include stomach aches, backaches, and coughing. When faced with any of these symptoms, have your husband, son, or friend give themselves an extra examination to double check for lumps and then see a doctor.”
See Your Doctor if You Have Changes in Headaches
“Headaches are very common and difficult to associate with tumors. But changes in frequency, type or intensity of headache should prompt neurological evaluation,” says Santosh Kesari, MD, Ph.D., neuro-oncologist, neuroscientist and chair of the Department of Translational Neurosciences and Neurotherapeutics at the John Wayne Cancer Institute. “Headaches typically are due to the tumor size and growth rate. So larger tumors and faster growing tumors cause an increased pressure in the brain resulting in headaches.”
See Your Doctor if You Have Forgetfulness That Affects Daily Life
“The main difference between age-related memory loss and dementia is that in normal aging the forgetfulness does not interfere with your ability to carry on with normal daily activities,” says Verna R. Porter, MD, neurologist and director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Program at Providence Saint John’s Health Center. “When memory loss becomes so pervasive that it begins to disrupt your work, hobbies, social activities, and family relationships, this may suggest the warning signs of an evolving dementia syndrome or a condition that mimics dementia.”
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See Your Doctor if You Feel Stress and Back Pain
“The majority of female patients who come to me for treatment of their spinal conditions often don’t believe me when I tell them that sometimes, the stress in their everyday lives contributes to their chronic back pain. It isn’t necessarily the stress itself that causes the problem either. It’s the absence of a way to relieve that stress,” says Neel Anand, MD, professor of orthopaedic surgery and director of spine trauma at Cedars-Sinai Spine Center. “Women are typically the ones who hold the lion’s share of obligations to friends, family and others. Because of this, they often forgo taking care of themselves. But doing so can have many negative and long-lasting implications when it comes to spine health.”
See Your Doctor if You Have Bothersome Urinary Symptoms
“If you’re a man over 50 having bothersome urinary symptoms, it could be benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), commonly known as enlarged prostate. Early intervention is key because If it’s not treated, it can worsen over time and cause permanent bladder damage,” says Douglas Dewire, MD. “ BPH can significantly impact a man’s quality of life, prevent good sleep and cause loss of productivity and even depression.”
See Your Doctor if You Have a Sudden Loss of Sight or Vision Problems
“It’s common for your eyes to become a bit red or dry occasionally, but you need to contact your eye doctor ASAP if you notice problems such as blind spots, double or blurred vision or abrupt headaches with or without visual impacts. This could be a serious medical problem that can cause permanent vision loss or even blindness when left untreated, so don’t wait,” says VSP Network Eye Doctor, Christine Joy, OD. “Keep in mind, it’s always a good practice to get an annual, comprehensive eye exam from your eye doctor. When your eyes are bothering you, it’s important to visit your local eye doctor to figure out what the problem is and how to treat it. Your eye exam can also detect something serious, like sudden-onset of glaucoma or signs of chronic conditions like diabetes.”
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Call Your Doctor if You Experience COVID Symptoms
If you think you may have any of these COVID symptoms, “follow the steps below to care for yourself and to help protect other people in your home and community,” says the CDC:
- “Stay home. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care. Do not leave your home, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas.
- Take care of yourself. Get rest and stay hydrated. Take over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, to help you feel better.
- Stay in touch with your doctor. Call before you get medical care. Be sure to get care if you have trouble breathing, or have any other emergency warning signs, or if you think it is an emergency.
- Avoid public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
- As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from other people and pets in your home. If possible, you should use a separate bathroom. If you need to be around other people or animals in or outside of the home, wear a mask.”
- And to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.