Seven pains to take seriously

By Gan Tian (Beijing Today)
Updated: 2008-05-27 13:48

Occasionally, you may get slight pains in your head, arms or waist for an instant and tell yourself it is nothing serious. But have you ever thought that these little pains could be warning signs that something is wrong with your body? Here we find Leanna Skarnulis's new health cure research and has some some suggestions for readers.


If you have a serious headache, get medical attention immediately. "If you have a cold, it could be a sinus headache," Sandra Fryhofer, spokeswoman for the American College of Physicians said. "But you could have a brain hemorrhage or even a brain tumor." With any pain, unless you're sure of what caused it, get it checked out.

*Chest, throat, jaw, shoulder, arm or abdominal pains

Chest pain could be the sign of a heart attack. Be aware that heart conditions typically appear as discomfort, not pain. "Don't wait for pain," cardiologist Jerome Cohen, says. "Heart patients talk about pressure. They'll clench their fist and put it over their chest or say it's like an ant sitting on their chest.”The discomfort associated with heart disease could also be in the upper chest, throat, jaw, left shoulder, arm or abdomen, and might be accompanied by nausea.

"I'm not too concerned about 18-year-old, but if a person has unexplained, persistent discomfort and knows they're high risk, they shouldn't wait," Cohen said. "Too many of people delay because they misinterpret it as heartburn or GI (gastro-intestinal) distress. Call the doctor or get to an emergency room or physician's office. If it turns out to be something else, that's grea but don't take chances."He told the health Web site WebMD that intermittent discomfort should be taken seriously as well. “There might be a pattern, such as discomfort related to excitement, emotional upset or exertion. For example, if you experience it when you're gardening, but it goes away when you sit down, that's angina. It's usually worse in cold or hot weather. "A woman's discomfort signs can be more subtle," Cohen, who is director of preventive cardiology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, said. 

This disease can masquerade as GI symptoms, such as bloating, GI distress or discomfort in the abdomen. It's also associated with feeling tired. Risk for heart disease increases dramatically after menopause. It kills mor women than men, even though men are at higher risk at any age. Women and their physicians need to be on their toes.”

*Lower back or between the shoulder blades pain

"Most often it is arthritis," Brangman, a professor and chief of geriatrics at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York, said. Other possibilities include a heart attack or abdominal problems. "One danger is aortic dissection, which can appear as either nagging or sudden pain. People who are at risk have conditions that can change the integrity of the vessel wall. These would include high blood pressure, a history of circulation problems, smoking, and diabetes"

*Abdominal pain

Still have your appendix? Don't flirt with the possibility of a rupture. Gall bladder and pancreas problems, stomach ulcers and intestinal blockages are some other possible causes of abdominal pain that needs attention.

*Calf pain

One of the lesser known dangers is deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot that can occur in the leg's deep veins. It affects 2 million Americans a year, and it can be life-threatenin. "The danger is that a piece of the clot could break loose and cause pulmonary embolism (a clot in the lungs), which could be fatal, Sandra Fryhofer, said. Cancer, obesity, immobility due to prolonged bed rest or long-istance travel, pregnancy and advanced age are among the risk factors.

"Sometimes there's just swelling without pain," Brangman said. "If you have swelling and pain in your calf muscles, see a doctor immediately".

*Burning feet or legs

Nearly one-third of the 20 million Americans who have diabetes are undiagnosed, according to the American Diabetes Association. "In some people who don't know they have diabetes, peripheral neuropathy could be one of the first signs," Brangman said. "It's a burning or pins-and-needles sensation in the feet or legs that can create nerve damage".

*Vague, combined, or medically unexplained pains

"Various painful, physical symptoms are common in depression," psychiatrist Thomas Wise said, "Patients will have vague complaints of heahes, abdominal pain or limb pain, sometimes combined."

Because the pain might be chronic and not terribly debilitating, depressed people, their families, and health care professionals might dismiss the symptoms. "Furtermore, the more depressed you are, the more difficulty you have describing your feelings," Wise said, who is the psychiatry department chairman at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Fairfax, Va.

"All of this can lead the clinian astray."Other symptoms must be present before a diagnosis of depression can be made. "Get help when you've lost interest in activities, you're unable to work or think effectively, and you can't get along with people," he said. "And don't suffer silently when you're hurting", The doctor adds there's more to depression than deterioration in the quality of life. "It has to be treated aggressively before it causes structural changesn the brain."


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