As we age there are aches and pains that we wake up with and wonder, “is that something to worry about? Was that pain there yesterday?” In many cases you might have just “slept wrong” or pulled a muscle. In other instances, though, you may have a sign or symptom that could warrant a phone call to your doctor.
Here are some health symptoms you shouldn’t ignore. If you’re a caregiver and your aging loved ones mention any of these, please make certain you pay attention and urge them to call the doctor – or call the doctor for them. This is what to watch out for:
- Any numbness or tingling in the extremities. Pay attention to whether you might have been sitting or lying down in such a way as to cause your leg or arm to fall sleep. If you weren’t and you’re noticing signs of numbness it could be due to a pinched nerve or at the other extreme, a sign of a stroke. If both sides of your body are numb or if you are numb from head to toe, call your doctor immediately. If you have a home medical alert system, this would be the time to press the button to summon help as time is of the essence.
- Chest pain could be indigestion, but if you have chest pain with shortness of breath or a pain in your upper chest or shoulder area, it could be the signs of a heart attack and you should call your physician.
- Dizziness can be caused by myriad reasons and could include mild dehydration or as potentially serious as an abnormal heartbeat. If you feel lightheaded and can’t determine why, contact your physician.
- The causes of nausea can vary from something you’ve eaten to heart trouble. Nausea, as a symptom in women, could be because of a heart condition. If you have nausea with stomach pain and vomiting or a fever, contact your doctor if it persists.
- A sudden change in vision could be an indicator of a stroke or high blood pressure. A flash of light could mean a detached retina. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, changes in vision could warrant a call to the doctor or a trip to the emergency room.
- Is a cough a symptom that means you should call the doctor? If it’s persistent, and accompanied by a fever or other issues, you may want to consider calling the doctor. Changes in weather, allergies or dust can also be the culprit so determine if that could be the cause.
- Unexplained joint pain or stiffness could be from arthritis or a change in the weather. If it is prolonged or if the joint appears red or warm to the touch you should be evaluated by your doctor.
- If you have a headache that just won’t go away and you can’t attribute it to a sinus headache or a change in the weather, you may want to call your doctor.
- A burning sensation in your feet or legs could be a case of undiagnosed diabetes. The burning sensation could be caused by peripheral neuropathy and could be one of the first signs of diabetes. It feels like pins and needles, or that “falling asleep” feeling in your legs.
While none of this information can be relied upon to diagnose or determine whether you should call your family doctor, it is a short list of health concerns that you don’t want to let linger.