Serious Symptoms That Shouldn’t Be Ignored A serious health issue can strike at any time. Serious symptoms can occur. And in many cases, a fast reaction can make a big impact on outcomes. Whether it’s a heart attack, stroke, or other serious illness, the following symptoms are those you should never ignore. Pain in the chest Heavy, crushing pain in your mid-chest, especially accompanied by nausea, sweating or shortness of breath, you may be having a heart attack and should seek medical help immediately. Pain can take all different forms. It could be sharp, comes and goes, is steady, isn’t too severe but seems odd. If chest pain strikes in the middle of the night, don’t try to ride it out and don’t worry about inconveniencing anyone. You know your body, so any pain that seems unusual and severe deserves a trip to the emergency room. Difficulty breathing If you’re short of breath, drawing a breath without getting any benefit from the air, or having trouble breathing, seek medical attention. Asthma, pulmonary embolism, pneumonia and chronic lung disease may all be at fault. Pain in the abdomen An unusual pain in the abdominal area, or anywhere below the ribs and above the hips, should be checked out. Of special concern are pains that are severe, new or accompanied by nausea, vomiting and fever. Because there are a number of organs in the abdomen, there are various causes of pain that could include kidney stones, gallstones, tumors, and/or complications of undiagnosed pregnancies. Stroke symptoms Stroke symptoms can come in many forms, but if you have a hard time talking, controlling or moving limbs, or experience face weakness or drooping, you may be having a stroke. Seek help immediately. The sooner doctors have a chance to diagnose and intervene, the better the outcome. Pain in the head If you have a serious, sudden headache, especially with fever, confusion, faintness or loss of consciousness, head for the emergency room. A stroke or very high blood pressure could be the culprit of these symptoms. With any medical concern, do not hesitate, see a doctor immediately. It’s better to overreact and over respond and be reassured, then to underreact and under-respond and miss the boat on a chance to intervene meaningfully.
Common Myths About Concussions A concussion is a traumatic brain injury characterized by the head and brain moving rapidly back and forth, striking the inside of the skull. Symptoms vary based on the individual and the severity of the impact. Signs of a concussion may include headache, sensitivity to light or sound, dizziness, sleep problems, nausea, changes in mood, confusion and memory problems. Common Concussion Myths (Items that are NOT true about Concussions) A concussion happens only with a blow to the head. Not all concussions are the result of a blow to the head. The cause could be an indirect blow somewhere else on the body that results in the head and brain moving rapidly back and forth. This causes a temporary change in the brain’s energy metabolism, resulting in concussion symptoms. A person with a concussion always loses consciousness. A concussion involves the loss of consciousness only about 10 percent of the time. And a person who loses consciousness as a result of some type of head trauma doesn’t necessarily have a concussion. Dilated pupils are a sign of concussion. Pupil dilation is not a reliable sign of concussion, particularly when both pupils are dilated equally. Our pupils can become dilated when the autonomic nervous systems sympathetic branch is stimulated and the fight or flight response is triggered. This can happen when the body is under stress due to excitement, nervousness or anxiety. However, when one pupil is more dilated than the other, it could be the sign of a structural brain injury that requires immediate emergency attention. Concussion patients should be awakened every few hours so they don’t lose consciousness. While checking on the individual within the first four hours of a concussion is important, the risk of a more serious brain injury typically passes after approximately four hours. After that, the individual should be allowed to rest, sleep and conserve energy for the next 48 to 72 hours. As a person further recovers from a concussion (following the 48- to 72-hour rest period), it’s also important for them to maintain their normal sleep patterns. Often, patients experience ongoing fatigue, causing them to sleep during the day and resulting in nighttime insomnia. We recommend melatonin for these patients, along with the standard sleep “hygiene”: no cellphones, tablets or TVs in the bedroom. Children who have suffered a concussion should avoid all screens and digital media. These activities may make symptoms worse, especially in the first few days after injury. If symptoms become worse, the activity should be avoided. Once individuals become less symptomatic, however, it is important to get back to normal activities that do not worsen symptoms, including screen time. If the child’s concussion is related to a sport or activity, he or she is now disconnected from teammates and friends. Taking away a child’s normal activities and social network — such as video games and cell phones — can be like taking away their identity, which can add to their sadness or anxiety. This can be harmful to the recovery process and could even prolong it. If you think you or a loved one has a concussion, you’ll want to be checked out by a doctor right away. Call us if you have questions on what to do if you do have a concussion.
Managing Migraine Symptoms Ever had a migraine? They are not fun if you’ve experienced one. A migraine can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on just one side of the head. It's often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can cause significant pain for hours to days and can be so severe that the pain is disabling. Warning symptoms known as aura may occur before or with the headache. These can include flashes of light, blind spots, or tingling on one side of the face or in your arm or leg. Causes Though migraine causes aren't understood, genetics and environmental factors appear to play a role. Migraines may be caused by changes in the brainstem and its interactions with the trigeminal nerve, a major pain pathway. Imbalances in brain chemicals, including serotonin, which helps regulate pain in your nervous system may also be involved. Researchers are still studying the role of serotonin in migraines. Serotonin levels drop during migraine attacks. This may cause your trigeminal nerve to release substances called neuropeptides, which travel to your brain's outer covering (meninges). The result is migraine pain. Other neurotransmitters play a role in the pain of migraine, including calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). Migraine triggers A number of factors may trigger migraines, including:
- Hormonal changes in women.
Fluctuations in estrogen seem to trigger headaches in many women. Women with a history of migraines often report headaches immediately before or during their periods, when they have a major drop in estrogen
- Others have an increased tendency to develop migraines during pregnancy or menopause
- Hormonal medications, such as oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy, also may worsen migraines. Some women, however, find their migraines occur less often when taking these medications.
- Foods. Aged cheeses, salty foods and processed foods may trigger migraines. Skipping meals or fasting also can trigger attacks.
- Food additives. The sweetener aspartame and the preservative monosodium glutamate (MSG), found in many foods, may trigger migraines.
- Drinks. Alcohol, especially wine, and highly caffeinated beverages may trigger migraines.
- Stress. Stress at work or home can cause migraines.
- Sensory stimuli. Bright lights and sun glare can induce migraines, as can loud sounds. Strong smells — including perfume, paint thinner, secondhand smoke and others — can trigger migraines in some people.
- Changes in wake-sleep pattern. Missing sleep or getting too much sleep may trigger migraines in some people, as can jet lag.
- Physical factors. Intense physical exertion, including sexual activity, may provoke migraines.
- Changes in the environment. A change of weather or barometric pressure can prompt a migraine.
- Medications. Oral contraceptives and vasodilators, such as nitroglycerin, can aggravate migraines.