Lifesaving List

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Ever feel something strange in your body and wonder whether it’s serious? Sure, everyone does. Now you’ll have some insight into whether it’s worthy of a doctor’s visit or, worse, a 911 call. In his new book How Not to Be My Patient: A Physician’s Secrets for Staying Healthy and Surviving Any Diagnosis (Write On Ink Publishing, 2014), cancer specialist Edward T. Creagan, M.D., shares 10 physical symptoms that should never be ignored. You might want to hang on to this list:

  1. Fatigue lasting more than a week without obvious explanation.
  2. A cough that lasts more than five to 10 days, especially if you’re a smoker and particularly if you start coughing up thick green or bloody mucus.
  3. Pain that lasts more than three to five days in a specific area without obvious explanation.
  4. Chest pain, a big one that many men and women foolishly ignore. Seek emergency care immediately.
  5. Blood in the rectum, stool, urine or mucus.
  6. A new lump or bump, not particularly painful or associated with trauma. Cancer is usually not painful. A lump or bump that has occurred relatively quickly and feels tender is almost never cancer. But if it doesn’t disappear over a week or so and you can’t remember whether you hurt yourself there, see your doctor.
  7. Moles. If a mole rapidly appears, darkens or itches over a relatively short number of months, or starts to bleed, you need to have a biopsy.
  8. Weight loss not associated with a diet or exercise program. A relatively quick loss of weight — faster than 2 or 3 pounds a week — may signal an underlying problem.
  9. Headaches are often related to tension and stress and are rarely brain tumors. But don’t ignore the onset of a new type of headache, especially if it occurs in the morning and increases when you cough or sneeze.
  10. Stroke signs. Weakness of an arm or leg; or numbness and tingling of an arm, leg, the face or tongue; or difficulty with speech; could indicate the potential onset of a stroke. This is a 911 emergency.

To learn more about and/or purchase Creagan’s book, visit hownottobemypatient.com.