Cancer specialist, Dr. Edward T. Creagan, says, “The careful physician will encourage you to elaborate on how you’re feeling, and then with insight, professionalism, and judgment can outline the most appropriate tests to home in on your symptoms.” In his newly released book How Not to Be My Patient: A Physician’s Secrets for Staying Healthy and Surviving Any Diagnosis, Dr. Creagan outlines 10 symptoms never to ignore.
Making sure you are proactive about the signs and symptoms your body is telling you is important in maintaining a healthy life. Below are 10 symptoms that Dr. Creagan has outlined as symptoms that if you are experiencing, especially multiple symptoms, you will want to take a moment and think about your health and what your next step should be. Ignoring these symptoms could mean ignoring a serious health condition; however, being proactive about these symptoms can prevent and more effectively treat any condition you might be experiencing. Either way, you will want to make note of these 10 symptoms.
10 Symptoms Never to Ignore
- Fatigue lasting more than a week without obvious explanation.
- Cough that lasts more than 5 to 10 days, especially if you are a smoker and particularly if you start coughing up thick green or bloody mucus.
- Pain that lasts more than 3 to 5 days in a specific area without obvious explanation.
- Chest pain is the big one many men and women foolishly ignore. Don’t toy with disaster. Get emergency care now.
- Blood in the rectum, stool, urine, or mucus.
- A new lump or bump, not particularly painful or associated with trauma. Cancer usually is not painful. A lump or bump that has occurred relatively quickly and feels tender is almost always not cancer. But if it doesn’t disappear over a week or so and you can’t remember if you hurt yourself there, see your doctor.
- Moles: If a mole rapidly appears or darkens or itches over a relatively short number of months, or starts to bleed, you need to have a biopsy (cells viewed under a microscope).
- Weight loss: As a society, we are consumed with diets. But weight loss without a diet is another matter. Many people who experience a dramatic loss of weight might dance with joy. But a relatively quick loss of weight—faster than 2 or 3 pounds a week—may signal an underlying problem.
- Headaches often are related to tension and stress and rarely are brain tumors, although that can be your first thought. Don’t ignore the new onset of a new type of headache, especially if it occurs in the morning and increases when you cough or sneeze.
- Stroke signs: Weakness of an arm or a leg, or numbness and tingling of an arm, leg, the face or tongue, or difficulty with speech, could indicate the potential onset of a stroke. Stroke causes the death of brain tissue because the blood supply to certain parts of your brain is interrupted. This is a 911 emergency.
“Ultimately, your health is in your hands,” says Dr. Creagan. “No one has a greater stake in your health than you do.”
About the Author
Edward T. Creagan, MD, FAAHPM: Professor of medical oncology at one of the world’s leading medical centers in Rochester, Minn., he is board certified in internal medicine, medical oncology, and hospice medicine and palliative care. “Dr. Ed” is the author of over 400 scientific papers and has given 1,000 presentations throughout the world. Follow him @AskDoctorEd; Facebook at How Not to Be My Patient. How Not to Be My Patient: A Physician’s Secrets for Staying Healthy and Surviving Any Diagnosis (second edition) by Edward T. Creagan, MD www.HowNotToBeMyPatient.com