7 red-flag health symptoms women should not ignore

woman coughing

Your body is the ‘home’ you live in and what better person than you to know when something doesn’t seem right. When anything ever seems different than normal such as pain, swelling or numbness in the extremities, take notice.  It could be your bodies’ “red flag” warning you to seek medical attention for further evaluation. It’s best not to put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

Here’s a look at 7 symptoms women should take seriously meeting with their doctor for a proper diagnosis. Any of these symptoms could be completely innocent with a good explanation why they’re happening, but until you see your doctor, you will never know for sure.

Numbness, tingling, or pain in hands or feet

Any kind of numbness, tingling, or pain in your extremities, is likely due to nerve damage or neurophathy particularly if a woman has diabetes. It could also be a herniated or bulging disk pressing on a nerve leading to the hands or feet. To be certain, see your doctor.  When pressure on a nerve is not relieved over time, permanent damage could occur resulting in continued numbness, tingling, or pain.

Persistent cough

If you’ve had trouble getting rid of a cough for at least 2 weeks, it’s time to visit your doctor to figure out why. Here are possible reasons for a cough that won’t quit:

  • Bronchial or lung problems
  • Gastrointestinal Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Cardiac distress
  • An infection
  • Cancer

Leg pain with swelling

Any swelling in the legs along with pain and/or redness needs immediate attention at an emergency room. The primary concern would be a life-threatening blood clot that could break loss and travel to the lungs. This is known as a pulmonary embolism which would block the supply of oxygen to the lungs.

Blood thinners are the primary treatment for a blood clot. Women who are most susceptible to blood clots in the legs are those with a history of blood clots or if they’ve been immobile for several hours such as on a long airplane flight.

Other symptoms of a possible blood clot include shortness of breath, discoloration of the legs, more visible veins, and a warm spot on the area of the leg that is swollen, red, or is painful.

Chest pain

Any pain in the chest, such as a squeezing feeling is scary.  Likely your first thought will be, “Is this a heart attack?” Keep in mind, heart attack symptoms in women are different than in men. Heart attack symptoms in women might include back or jaw pain, nausea, or extreme fatigue.  Any of these symptoms could be warning signs the heart is in distress. Do not hesitate to call 911 as time is of the essence in this situation.

Bleeding after menopause

Women reach menopause when they have not had a period of at least 12 months. If you suddenly have post-menopausal bleeding, this is considered not normal and should be evaluated by your doctor. Endometrial or cervical cancers could be possible reasons for post-menopausal bleeding. If it is, the earlier they are diagnosed, the greater chance of beating each back. Endometrial cancer affects 2% to 3% of American women and is the most common type of gynecological cancer, affecting most often post-menopausal women.

Other possible causes of post-menopausal bleeding might be certain noncancerous conditions such as vaginal atrophy, uterine fibroids, or polyps. Whatever reason why bleeding is occurring, go see your doctor for it right away.

Severe headache

Many women can experience migraines or headaches in general.  But if you have a crushing pain or the worst headache ever that has come on very quickly, do not hesitate, call 911 and get to an ER right away. It could be an aneurysm which is a bulge in a blood vessel caused by a weakness in the blood vessel wall. The pain felt is due to the enlarged artery pressing on the brain. Blood that is passing through the artery can cause an area to bulge outwards like a balloon that can rupture leading to a stroke or death from hemorrhaging in the brain.

Headaches may sometimes be a sign of a brain tumor, especially if the headaches are happening regularly or you have vision problems along with the headaches. Speaking with your doctor is necessary to rule out other problems.

Lumps or skin discolorations

It’s important to pay attention to bodily changes, especially lumps or skin spots that look different or you’ve never noticed before. Of course, any lump found in the breast needs to be evaluated to rule out breast cancer but also any lumps discovered anywhere else on your body. Lumps discovered near your throat could be thyroid or throat cancer or lumps found within a lymph node might be lymphoma.

Any new spot on your skin or a mole that has changed in size, shape, and color may be a sign of skin cancer. Each month, perform a skin check looking for moles by following the ABCDE rule checking for asymmetry, border, color, diameter, and evolvement of the mole. If you notice a change, see a dermatologist right away to get a proper diagnosis.

7 red-flag health symptoms women should not ignore
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Dr. David Samadi

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Dr. David Samadi