Although some people only imagine they are sick (as in hypochondria) or actually feign an illness to get attention (as in Munchausen Syndrome), there are a number of symptoms that should simply not be ignored, at least not until a healthcare expert has had a chance to conduct a full examination of the patient. The following 10 symptoms, in fact, indicate that something very serious may be going on – thus the justification for their being taken very seriously.
1. Constipation or difficulty urinating. The human body needs to get rid of processed substances, including the food and liquids we consume. When a person cannot get rid of these things on a timely basis, a potential toxicity can set in that can actually be life-threatening.
2. A fever. The human body is capable of maintaining a delicate balance (homeostasis). This “balance” includes a temperature that usually revolves around 98.5 degrees Fahrenheit. While some people’s normal temperature can be slightly higher or slightly lower, a temperature that is significantly higher (more than 3 to 5 degrees) can be very dangerous. Usually the result of an infection, a high temperature can quickly turn into a serious problem. Actually, a fever is the precursor or the accompanying symptom to a number of complicated diseases, which is why it should never be ignored or underestimated.
3. Inability or difficulty swallowing. The human body cannot last for very long if it cannot consume fluids and foods. Difficulty swallowing can be the result of a number of diseases, some of them neurological, some chemical and some of even a psychosomatic nature. Whatever the etiology, this is a problem that should be referred to a physician so a diagnosis may be rendered.
4. Unusual discharge of any kind. Whether it is an excessive or unexplained amount of sweat, large amounts of saliva, pus or blood, this is one symptom that is usually related to a very serious problem. As a general rule, the body discharges a certain number of things (mucus, blood, tears, etc.), but these usually follow a normal pattern or should be explainable in nature.
5. A wound that will not heal. Most ostensibly, this can be a symptom of diabetes mellitus, but there are other possibilities that may also be considered. Some skin cancers, for example, may be mistaken for a regular wound, which can sometimes be a reason for them being ignored or unattended at first. A wound that will not heal may turn into a serious infection or may turn gangrenous (possibly leading to a lost limb).
6. Passing out or fainting (syncope). This can be the result of something as complicated as a brain tumor or as simple as hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Whatever the reason, this is something you should never leave uninvestigated. Fainting spells may only be the beginning of what may turn into a long-term, immediate-attention-demanding infirmity.
7. Persistent and intensive pain. Actually, pain of any kind should never be ignored. There is usually a reason for pain and you should always pursue a plausible medical explanation for any type of pain. In most cases, pain can be explained by or traced to something as simple as a pinched nerve, a growth of some kind, damaged tissue, an injury of some kind or exposure to some kind of harmful substance. In other instances, however, one direct source may never be found. In almost every case, pain can be properly treated, but this should happen only after all possible, most-likely causes are checked into and eliminated.
8. Trouble breathing. A human being can survive despite having difficulty breathing (depending on the severity of the problem), but the source of the difficulty needs to be identified, hopefully leading to some kind of treatment. Is the patient asthmatic, for example, or is bronchitis, pneumonia or emphysema involved? The bottom line is that inefficient breathing may lead to hypoxia (low blood oxygen levels), which can then lead to damaged organs, passing out or some other complication.
9. Slurred speech and unusual or bizarre behavior. The person in question may only be drunk, but making such an assumption can often be dangerous. Other possibilities to consider are a stroke, a psychotic episode (which can be brought about by an organic event, drugs or the culmination of a developing mental illness), sugar imbalance, a suicidal attempt, a drug overdose, the use of illegal drugs, or a number of other significantly important possibilities.
10. Major skin discoloration or disfigurement. One of the most serious problems to worry about is skin cancer, but there are other possibilities that may also call for medical attention and care. Discoloration may be simply the result of a bruise sustained from a fall or a blow or an allergic reaction, but if no event can be alluded to which can explain the discoloration, then the matter should be referred to a skin-care specialist.