'Red Flags': 10 Symptoms You Shouldn't Ignore

Pain associated with passing out or feelings of lightheadedness;

Pain or shortness of breath in anyone with a swollen or painful leg;

Feeling like your heart is fluttering or beating quickly.

2. Shortness of Breath:

Difficulty breathing that worsens when you lie flat or when you exert yourself;

Feeling like you are breathing faster than usual or are having difficulty talking;

Difficulty breathing that starts suddenly;

Worsening of formerly stable shortness of breath, such as is seen in an acute asthma attack;

Shortness of breath with fever;

Coughing up blood;

Difficulty breathing in anyone with a swollen or painful leg.

3. Symptoms of stroke or TIA

Any of these symptoms are concerning even if they are transient or improve;

Weakness, numbness, or inability to move any part of your body;

Any changes in vision, including double vision, blurry vision, or loss of vision;

Difficulty speaking ;


Feelings of dizziness, loss of balance, unsteadiness, or difficulty walking;

Recent head injury (such as a fall) or stroke;


4. Abdominal and Gastrointestinal Symptoms

Bloody stools or bloody diarrhea;

Diarrhea associated with severe abdominal pain;

New onset of constipation, or stools that look darker than normal;

Vomiting blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds;

History of heavy alcohol use;

Vomiting or pain that is keeping you from taking your regular medications;

Abdominal pain associated with fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or lack of appetite;

Abdominal pain that becomes worse after meals;

Abdominal pain in the presence of chronic ibuprofen (or any other NSAID drug) or aspirin use;

Abdominal pain that starts suddenly;

Abdominal pain that doesn't resolve;

Any of the above symptoms associated with a history of heavy alcohol use.

5. Loss of consciousness or significant lightheadedness

Passing out associated with chest pain, palpitations, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, or headache;

Passing out associated with the presence of any symptoms concerning for stroke or TIA;

Passing out without preceding warning symptoms;

Passing out during exercise.

6. Severe headache:

Headache that starts suddenly (you can pinpoint the exact moment your headache began), like a "thunderclap";

Headache that you would describe as the "worst headache of your life";

Headache associated with confusion, fever, stiff neck, vomiting, seizure, weakness, numbness, visual changes, or pain with chewing;

Recent trauma or fall.

7. Visual Changes

Double vision, blurry vision, or loss of vision (even if transient);

History of glaucoma;

History of diabetes, high blood pressure, or atrial fibrillation;

Changes in vision associated with severe eye pain, headache, scalp or jaw pain.

8. Allergic Reaction (Following an insect sting or ingestion of any substance such as a food or medication):

Feeling like it is difficult to breathe;


Swelling of lips, face, tongue, or throat;

Redness, rash or hives over the body.

9. Depression

Feeling that you want to hurt yourself or someone else;

History of abuse or feeling that you are unsafe at home;

Persistent sadness;

Loss of interest in normal activities;

Increased use of alcohol or substances.

10. Back pain:

Incontinence or retention of stool or urine;

Weakness or numbness of your legs or groin area;

Persistent pain that comes on with no history of falls or other trauma;

History of osteoporosis;

History of cancer;

Back pain associated with fever;

Back pain associated with burning or painful urination.

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