Senior Health: 9 Signs That It’s Time to Visit Your Doctor
The signs of an illness can appear in many ways. In some cases, they may be relatively mild and easy to ignore. Not every tiny ache or pain requires the attention of a doctor. It’s important to know when you should see one in case you miss a symptom of something serious.
This is even more important as we get older. Seniors have to be careful about managing their health if they want to remain as mobile and independent as possible. If you have a loved one that is an older adult, then you should provide support and prepare to be their advocate if anything changes. If you are a senior, then you may have to play this role yourself. That means seeking medical advice if you notice signs of illness or injury.
Letting a condition linger can make it much worse or even lead to permanent consequences or even death. Addressing the problem right away is the best way to preserve your health and wellbeing or that of a loved one. East Shea Assisted Living urges you to contact your doctor if you notice any of the signs listed below.
- Illness That Persists or Worsens
Anytime you have a cold or experience flu symptoms that persist or become worse, you should seek medical advice. This can indicate that something deeper is going on or that your immune system isn’t able to fight off whatever is attacking you.
Even if you are still able to function, you should visit your doctor if the problem doesn’t resolve itself in less than two weeks. If you have a high risk for certain illnesses, then you shouldn’t wait that long.
Symptoms could include things like congestion, cough, muscle aches, and difficulty swallowing. Senior citizens and those with heart disease are at a higher risk of complications and are advised to seek a medical evaluation as soon as possible.
- A High Fever That Lasts for 3 Days or More
A high fever means that your body is fighting off an infection. Normally, these would go away in a short amount of time. However, if you notice a fever that lasts more than 2 or 3 days, you should see your doctor.
A fever is classified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a temperature of 100.4 degrees F (38 degrees C) or higher. You may also feel warm to the touch.
- Severe Pain in the Chest, Abdomen, or Pelvis
Pain in the chest, abdomen, or pelvic region can indicate a problem that needs treatment. For example, pain in the chest could be a sign of a heart attack. Abdominal pain could be the result of gallstones. Pain in the pelvis could indicate a kidney infection or, less commonly in seniors, could be a symptom of appendicitis.
Many of our essential organs are located in these parts of our bodies. That’s why you should not ignore pain in these areas, especially if it is severe, doesn’t go away, or returns often.
- Changes in Vision Like Flashes of Light
Many people experience migraines that include bright flashes in their field of vision. This isn’t uncommon and isn’t necessarily a sign of a hidden problem. If you experience migraines, you should talk to your doctor about it to make sure nothing is going on.
Flashes of light can also indicate a retinal detachment. This is considered an emergency that requires immediate medical attention. If you don’t seek treatment right away, you could end up with permanent vision loss.
- Symptoms That Appear After a Procedure or Medication
When you undergo a procedure, receive an immunization, or take a new medication, your body may respond in different ways. Your doctor or surgeon should talk to you about possible side effects and the healing process before getting started.
Some side effects may be ordinary and will go away in time. If you experience anything that your doctor didn’t mention or if the symptom worsens, make an appointment for a check-up. People’s bodies can respond differently, even when the medication or procedure is common or routine. Staying on top of changes will allow you to get help if you need it.
- Unexplained Weight Loss
Our weight is directly tied to our overall health. If you experience a sudden weight loss for no reason, this is a big red flag. Weight loss can be a symptom of a number of health conditions. It can also happen when a patient experiences depression or the early signs of dementia.
Your doctor can make sure you don’t lose too much weight and figure out what’s causing the loss. It’s best to address this right away before it becomes a medical emergency.
- Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath can have many causes. It can occur because we did physical activity. It can also happen because of illness, asthma, or other conditions. It’s also a symptom of COVID-19, which is highly infectious.
If you notice shortness of breath that isn’t the result of normal exercise, you should seek medical attention right away.
- Dizziness or Numbness
Dizziness and numbness can appear for a variety of reasons, including blood pressure issues, progressive spine degeneration, and injury. A dizzy spell may be over in a matter of seconds, but it can indicate a problem or create a dangerous situation that could end in a fall.
Dehydration can also cause dizziness. Make sure you consult your doctor if these symptoms develop. If you are otherwise healthy, you should avoid suddenly changing body positions and have something to lean on when standing.
- Mood Changes and Confusion
Unexplained mood changes and confusion can indicate both mental and physical health problems. Seniors who have difficulty focusing, feel anxious or depressed, or have trouble sleeping should visit a doctor.
Good health starts with regular check-ups. Even if you don’t experience any changes or symptoms, you should still schedule a routine exam once per year. Check back to learn more senior care tips from East Shea assisted living.