You know your body best. Learning to listen to your body when it’s trying to send you a message that something is wrong is critical to your health. Symptoms can come and go, some without major consequence. But there are symptoms you should never ignore. Learn what you should do if any of them become present in your life, especially Dr. Oz’s #1 deadly symptom you should never ignore.
Deadly Symptom: Sudden and Increasing Pain in the Upper Right of Your Stomach
The Condition: Gallstones
The gallbladder is one of the body’s smallest organs. Located right below the liver, it collects bile, necessary for the digestion of fat, and releases it into the small intestine. When excess cholesterol is present in bile, stones can begin to form in the gallbladder – leading to excruciating pain, infection and other complications. Infection can spread to the liver or pancreas and can be deadly if left untreated. When infection occurs or, in more extreme cases, when the gallbladder bursts, surgery is necessary. Seek immediate help if you feel this pain, which can be accompanied by a fever. Click here to learn more about keeping your gallbladder healthy.
Deadly Symptom: Blurred, Shaded or Double Vision
The Condition: Diabetes
Aging can cause vision changes, but these symptoms are distinct. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in people ages 20 to 74. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can damage all the blood vessels in the body, including those in the eye. Damaged vessels can not deliver blood to the eye. As new vessels begin to replace the damaged ones, they begin to crowd your field of vision, shading it like the branches of a tree. These new vessels can also hemorrhage. If you notice blurred, shaded or double vision, go to your doctor immediately. These symptoms are reversible and further damage is avoidable if you get your sugar levels under control.
Deadly Symptom: A Persistent Headache
The Condition: Cerebral Aneurysm
People who have had an aneurysm have described the pain as the “worst headache of their life.” An aneurysm is a ballooning of the blood vessel. If you feel an intense headache, it could mean that a blood vessel has ruptured, which is fatal 40% of the time. If you have high blood pressure, you are at increased risk for a cerebral aneurysm. If you are menopausal, the drop in estrogen is also a risk factor.
Seek help immediately if you feel this pain or any of these warning symptoms:
- Pain above or behind the eye
- Neck pain
- Numbness on one side of the face
Click here to learn more about the different kinds of pain caused by headaches, and the right and wrong way to treat them.
Deadly Symptom: A Leg Cramp That Won’t Go Away
The Condition: Deep Vein Thrombosis
A cramp, pain or tenderness in the leg can be a symptom of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This pain is a sign that there is a clot in the leg, which can travel to your lungs, where it can block an artery. If this happens, it can stop your heart and you could die in minutes. Symptoms include pain or swelling in the calf, pain behind the knee, or pain or tenderness in the thigh.
DVT is most likely to occur after sitting for long periods of time, especially during air travel. Other risk factors include family history, and taking estrogen medication like the pill or hormone replacements, as side effects already include blood clots. DVT is preventable; get up or move as often as possible, especially when on a plane (and avoid alcohol when flying). Click here to learn more about how estrogen medications put you at increased risk for DVT.
Deadly Symptom: Bleeding Gums
The Condition: Leukemia
In a healthy person, the blood components operate normally: red blood cells deliver oxygen, white blood cells fight infection, and platelets clot the blood. But in a person with leukemia, or cancer of the body's blood-forming tissues, including the bone marrow and the lymphatic system, there is an elevated number of abnormal white blood cells that don’t function properly. As a result, there aren’t as many platelets and blood does not clot as it should. People with leukemia will bleed and bruise more easily. Other symptoms include nosebleeds, fever, night sweats, and weakness or fatigue. A doctor can diagnose leukemia with a blood test.
Deadly Symptom: Shortness of Breath
The Condition: Asthma
An asthma attack is caused by the tightening of the muscles around your airways, inflammation of the lining of the airways, and thick and excess mucus production. A combination of all three will give rise to asthma symptoms including shortness of breath, which means that less air is getting to your lungs. At a critical level, this can stop your heart. If you experience asthma symptoms, talk to your doctor and avoid asthma triggers like allergens, pet dander, cold weather or emotional upset.
Dr. Oz’s #1 Symptom You Should Never Ignore: Persistent Nausea
The Condition: A Heart Attack
Although chest pain is the most common symptom in both men and women, many women experience vague symptoms that are not immediately attributed to a heart attack.
Why would persistent nausea, one of the most surprising symptoms, be a sign of a heart attack? It’s due to the medical phenomenon of “referred pain” – when pain is perceived at a site adjacent to or distant from the actual area of injury or illness. The heart has no actual nerve endings to feel pain, so it sends signals to the spine, which then send signals to the rest of the body. Ninety-five percent of women who had a heart attack said they felt one of the below symptoms up to a month before the attack. The key is to recognize the symptoms, as well as their frequency and severity.
Here are symptoms of a heart attack that no one should ever ignore:
- Pressure, tightness and squeezing pain across the chest
- Pain radiating down the arm, shoulders, jaw, neck, and back, particularly on the left side
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness, sweating, weakness, overwhelming fatigue
- Feeling of impending doom
- Headache, blurry vision, lightheadedness, feeling faint
- Gastrointestinal symptoms such as indigestion, nausea and vomiting
- Coughing and palpitations
If you are experiencing these symptoms and feel that you are having a heart attack:
- Call 911 and say “I’m having a heart attack.” Have someone drive you to the emergency room if an ambulance can not get to you in time.
- Chew an aspirin; this can reduce damage to the heart muscle.
- Lie down.