Sometimes those minor aches and pains are just that–minor.
But sometimes, the weird things your body does are a sign of something much more serious. Be on the watch, all five red-flag symptoms require immediate medical attention.
1. You have swelling and pain in your lower leg. This could be deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot condition. It often develops after sitting for lengthy stretches, such as on long flights. The danger? The clot could break free, head upstream and block a blood vessel to the lung—which can be fatal. Go to the emergency room.
2. You feel pain in your chest, back shoulder or jaw, along with nausea. Call 911. You might be having a heart attack. A Swedish study found that when women have a heart attack, they are more likely than men to report feeling back pain, nausea, dizziness and heart palpitations along with their chest discomfort.
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3. You’re more thirsty, hungry and tired than usual, and you’re using the toilet more often. These symptoms are often the harbingers of diabetes. Schedule an appointment with your doctor within the week for a blood sugar test and possibly other exams.
4. You spot a black streak under your fingernail. If you don’t remember injuring the nail, look into the streak. It might be melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Called “hidden melanomas” because of their unlikely placement, they account for up to 8 percent of melanomas in fair-skinned people and up to 60 percent of melanomas in people with darker skin. The prognosis is good for lesions that are caught and removed early.
5. You see lightning streaks and “floaters” in your eye. The gel-like fluid inside your eye shrinks in middle age, and as it pulls away, it can tug at the places where it’s attached to the retina. Most of the time people don’t notice. But occasionally, the separation stimulates the retina, producing floaters and streaks of light in your side vision. If that happens, see your eye doctor to make sure the retina wasn’t damaged. You might need laser treatment or even surgery.