When something small is off in your body, you might have a tendency to ignore it and hope it goes away. Although most of the time this attitude is no problem, there are some subtle health symptoms that are signs you should go to the ER, no matter how small they seem. Even though it might seem like you're being overly cautious, sometimes it's better safe than sorry, as some serious conditions might have some very inconspicuous symptoms.
"Not everyone is aware of the symptoms deemed a medical emergency," Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, M.D., M.S. tells Bustle. "Sometimes extremely serious symptoms are disregarded and swept under the rug due to lack of knowledge about symptom severity. The sooner you are evaluated, the more likely you will have better odds of survival if you are indeed experiencing a medical emergency." This way, you are always looking out for your health, and preventing any potential illnesses from escalating.
If you're ever unsure about something you're feeling, you can always try to get ahold of your doctor. But if you have any symptoms that don't feel right, it's best to get yourself some help. Here are six subtle, little-known health symptoms that might warrant a trip to the ER, according to experts.
1. A Sudden, Onset Headache
Experiencing the worst headache of your life is definitely something you should get checked out as soon as you can. Take note if this headache falls into the category of "sudden onset," meaning it happens very quickly, and is extremely painful, and if the headache occurred after physical exertion like bending over, having sex, or exercising — this could mean you have a ruptured aneurysm, Dr. Ashley Satorius Rutz, emergency medicine resident at IU Health Methodist Hospital and IU School of Medicine, tells Bustle. Get this checked out right away, Dr. Rutz says, because a ruptured aneurysm could lead to bleeding in the brain, and may be potentially fatal if not looked at soon enough. Of course not all headaches are cause for panic, erring on the side of caution and seeking medical attention ASAP is always a good idea.
2. Shortness Of Breath While On Birth Control Pills
If you are on birth control, and suddenly have difficulties breathing, do not ignore it. "If you’re having this feeling, it doesn’t go away and you’re on oral contraceptive pills (OCPs, or birth control pills), it could be a sign of pulmonary embolism or PE, which is a blood clot in the lungs," says Dr. Rutz. "Again, something that means you’d likely need to be admitted to the hospital." Again, it's important not to jump to conclusions, but by seeking medical attention right away, you can better understand the problem and how to fix it.
3. Sudden Facial Droop
If you experience an acute onset of facial droop, in conjunction with slurred speech, weakness, or difficulty getting your words out, you should be evaluated for a potential stroke. "There are also other possible causes for facial droop such as Bell's Palsy [a sudden weakning of the facial muscles], so perhaps the symptom may be due to a different disease process," says Okeke-Igbokwe. "But the bottom line is that immediate action needs to be taken if you experience such symptoms. An acute stroke is a medical emergency that must be ruled out without delay." So if you're even slightly concerned, your best bet is to see a doctor immediately.
4. Abdominal Pain That Moves To The Right
With early appendicitis, people often feel the discomfort start right around their belly button, and then the pain migrates as they get sicker. "If you have severe pain in the right lower side — especially if it hurts on the right when someone presses the left side, or if it hurts whenever the car bounces while driving, it raises suspicion for appendicitis with inflammation," ER doctor Dr. Darria Long Gillespie tells Bustle. Although stomach pain can have a variety of different causes, seek medical attention if the pain is acute, and persistent.
5. Pain At The Base Of Your Thumb After A Hard Fall
Although seemingly small, talk with your doctor if you recently hurt your hand, and are experiencing pain in your thumb, because it could mean a bone fracture that is hard to detect. "There’s a specific injury that can happen to one of the small bones in the wrist, but it often won’t show up on an early X-ray (which is why it can be missed)," says Dr. Gillespie. "So, in anyone who has had a hard fall, I always palpate this area for what we call 'snuffbox tenderness': pain right in that little indentation where your thumb meets your wrist. A fracture to that bone requires splinting or it can heal improperly, threatening the blood supply to the entire bone." Although it shouldn't cause you to worry too much, letting your doctor know the full extent of the injury could prevent any potential complications.
6. Easy Bruising Or Little Purple Spots
Little purple spots and easy bruising might seem innocent, but they should not go ignored. "These can indicate low platelets or leukemia," emergency medicine doctor Amy Baxter, MD tells Bustle. But do not assume the worst right away. Take note if the bruising is seemingly coming out of no where, and alert your doctor. They will be able to help you get to the bottom of why this may be happening.
Although many of symptoms can be end up being innocent, instead of taking the risk, look after your health by speaking with a doctor, or taking a trip to the ER.