As we age, our bodies give us feedback we’re not used to. Activities that never required a second thought suddenly take some planning. Sometimes it’s hard to know if a new pain or sensation is something that we should worry about, or just a natural part of the aging process.
We’ve compiled a list for you. If you or someone you love experiences any symptoms on this list, take them seriously and consult a physician immediately.
- Confusion/Speech Difficulty. Call 911. These two symptoms are the most common manifestations of stroke. As the difficulty recovering from stroke depends heavily on the speed of attention to the event, it is wise to take this very seriously. Other reasons to suspect stroke include numbness, weakness, paralysis on one side of the body, or further difficulty with balance.
- Vision Issues. Blurry, double vision? This is also a potential warning of stroke. Additionally, if you experience pain in your eyes, you should seek urgent treatment.
- Chest Pain. This is a big one. If you have pain that lasts longer than a minute or two, it’s no time to wait. Treating a cardio event in the early stages is key.
- Shortness of Breath. Any sudden difficulty catching your breath for longer than a few seconds should be your cue to get to the emergency room.
- Stomach Pain. If it’s sudden, intense, and lasts longer than 30 minutes, a visit to urgent care is called for. Unresolved pain needs dealt with, and abdominal pain could need special attention. Don’t take the risk.
- High Fever. If an adult has a fever that has reached 104 degrees, they need to be seen by a physician. The same is true for a newborn (up to 3 months) with a fever that reaches 100.4F. Excessive fevers need to be brought down. Let the professionals help.
- Unusual Vomiting. When abdominal pain is unrelieved after vomiting, or if there is blood in the vomit, the situation needs caution and monitoring. If the unusual vomiting is accompanied by a high fever and lasts more than a few hours, children should be seen immediately. Adults should be seen if the episode lasts longer than a day.
- Seizures. If seizures are part of your medical history, follow your doctor’s orders for managing; however, if seizures increase in occurrence, this is call to revisit your care plan. A first-time seizure requires immediate attention, as does a seizure experienced by anyone who lives with diabetes, or who is pregnant.
- Head Injury. Take even a head bump seriously if you have a lingering headache. Head injuries can cause seizure, difficulty with speech, and confusion. Loss of sensation, strength, and coordination are also key indicators that any issues with head injury should be taken seriously.
If your symptom is something not listed above, be seen sooner than later. Aging happens differently to everyone, and health is high priority. Finally, trust your instincts. If something feels “off”, check it out. You’re right that it probably is nothing, but it’s much better to know than to worry.
Charlotte Bishop is an Aging Life Care Advisor, Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago.