I do not treat everything generated by AARP as gospel. Philosophically, I have had some issues, from time to time, as any other member (yes, I am) probably has. However, paying attention to their recent posting on “9 Symptoms You Should Never Ignore” is very well worth doing. They are symptoms we see all too frequently among the senior patients / clients to whom we provide service at Support For Home Health Care.
Every caregiver should be trained to help recognize these critical symptoms, especially where the senior they care for has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, limiting their ability to articulate what is happening or make good decisions about care.
The symptoms in question are as follows. Please check out the article for more detail:
- Sudden intense headache – this symptom may be a sign of, among other things, cardiac cephalgia, meningitis, temporal arteritis or shingles.
- Chest pain – the obvious danger is a heart attack, but it could also be acid reflux, which is not something to take lightly, either.
- Unexplained weight loss – “Losing more than 5 percent of your body weight — without trying — over a period of six months could mean cancer…” Among other possibilities are depression and diabetes.
- Unusual bleeding – ulcers or colon cancer can cause bleeding, as can other forms of cancer; “coughing up blood can happen with noncancerous conditions, like bronchitis, pneumonia or tuberculosis.”
- High or persistent fever – “”fever of 103 degrees and higher warrants a trip to the doctor — period,” according to David Bronson, M.D., president of the American College of Physicians. However, lower but on-going fever cannot be ignored, either.
- Shortness of breath – “Sudden shortness of breath can indicate a pulmonary embolism — when a blood clot forms in the body’s deep veins (usually in the legs), travels to the lungs and gets lodged in the lung’s blood vessels. Suspect an embolism if you’ve recently traveled, have undergone surgery or have been immobile, and/or your shortness of breath is accompanied by chest pain and coughing up blood. If you find yourself gasping after climbing two or three stairs or getting tired sooner than you used to, doctors will want to rule out chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)…”
- Sudden confusion – A brain tumor or stroke is definitely a possibility, here, and needs to be checked out immediately. The window for care for a stroke is very narrow.
- Swelling in the legs – While there are other potential causes, one that your doctor is going to want to check out immediately is heart failure. If accompanied by shortness of breath, the likelihood is increased.
- Sudden or severe abdominal pain – an aortic aneurysm is a distinct and dangerous possibility. Gall stones are another very painful potential problem, as are holes in the stomach or intestine, from an ulcer.
For each of these symptoms, there are multiple alternative causes, which the article discusses. The bottom line, however, is that none of these symptoms should be ignored. Consulting with your doctor is vital.
Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year! Bert