We’ve all been there: feeling under the weather and not knowing if you should go to the doctor or not. A debilitating headache, a persistent cough, a general feeling of malaise—these have all driven us to pop a non-prescribed pill or two. As a rule of thumb, though, we should always err on the side of caution and see a medical professional when possible. These five symptoms will warrant a trip to the doctor ASAP.
Sudden and unexplained weight loss
Weight loss or weight gain is pretty normal. All of us experience fluctuating levels of appetite, stress, and the urge to workout. But losing a significant amount of weight when we’re not trying to should not be taken for granted; weight loss is an early symptom for a wide variety of serious medical conditions like diabetes and cancer. Just how significant is significant weight loss? The Mayo Clinic website pegs it at five percent of your total body weight, in six months to a year. So, if you’re at 150 lbs. in January and went down to 140 lbs. in a few months without trying to lose weight, you may want to schedule a check-up.
Getting tired easily
We all get tired, especially after a long day’s work, but it’s quite different if you get tired while doing things that didn’t bother you before. A good indicator is climbing stairs. If you’re usually out of breath when you get to the top of the staircase, your body could be telling you to go the doctor. Running out of breath while climbing up the stairs may be a symptom of a heart condition, or COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) like emphysema or chronic bronchitis.
Changes in our skin
As the outermost organ of the body, the skin is an often overlooked but great indicator of what’s happening within. Dry and itchy skin is pretty normal, especially in certain seasons, but sudden dryness or itchiness or even discoloration, could be a sign of something serious. A dark patch of skin on your neck, armpit and groin may indicate high insulin levels, and is often seen as an early sign of diabetes. Thick, dry, and scaly skin on the other hand could signal high blood pressure and kidney problems. If you have any of these symptoms, visit a doctor ASAP.
Skipping breakfast and quickly standing up may make you feel a little lightheaded, but constant dizziness is something that you need to be concerned about. Always having to steady yourself, pale skin, or weak knees—these are classic symptoms of anemia. Recurrent instances of dizziness could also require a visit with your cardiologist, as it could also point to potential heart trouble.
If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, with your beddings and clothes drenched in perspiration, even if the AC is at full blast, you could be suffering from nocturnal hyperhidrosis or night sweats. This could be a symptom of many things—from the natural and slightly worrisome (like menopause and sleep apnea) to critical infections like tuberculosis, endocarditis (enlargement of the heart valve), or even cancer. When you suffer from night sweats it could be nothing or it could be anything, so it’s best to see a doctor and get it sorted out as soon as possible.
Of course, aside from these five, check for COVID-19 symptoms like fever, dry cough, tiredness, aches and pains, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell, or skin rashes. Serious symptoms include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, and loss of speech or movement. If you have these symptoms, consult with a doctor right away.