(RxWiki News) Written By Anyssa Garza, PharmD, BCMAS
Although women are more likely to visit their doctor than men, many women may be ignoring important signs and symptoms. Read on for a look at six health symptoms women may overlook.
1) Feeling very tired. Long days at work, late nights and early wakeup calls can all add up. While it’s common to feel yourself dragging throughout the day and craving a nap after lunch, chronic fatigue may signal a bigger problem. If your fatigue has continued for more than two weeks, despite making lifestyle changes like eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of rest and reducing stress, it may be time to talk to a doctor. Fatigue could be a sign of anemia, hypothyroidism or depression, among other conditions.
2) Stomach bloating and pain. More often than not, abdominal pain and bloating can be credited to gas or a recent meal. But if this problem becomes consistent, it could be a sign of something more. Bloating is the sensation of the belly feeling full and tight. Your belly may even look swollen. This can sometimes point to a bigger problem, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Localized pain in one area of your stomach could also mean there is a problem with your gallbladder or appendix. Pain that comes in waves could indicate kidney stones or gallstones. Stomach pain may be caused by a variety of conditions. Contact your doctor if your symptoms do not go away.
3) Chest pain. Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both women and men in the US. However, heart attack signs and symptoms are often ignored. Men and women can experience different signs and symptoms of a heart attack. The most common symptom in women is some type of chest pain or pressure. However, this feeling may not be severe or the most notable symptom in women. Some women may not even have chest pain during a heart attack.
Women may have other symptoms that are not related to chest pain, such as lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, sweating and unusual fatigue. Some women report shortness of breath or upper back pressure. Heart disease is preventable, so speak with your doctor at your next visit. And seek immediate medical care if you think you might be having a heart attack.
4) Changes in a mole. If you have noticed a change in the symmetry, border, color or diameter of any moles on your body, see a doctor immediately. In addition, hidden melanomas can develop under your fingernails, on the palms of your hands and on the soles of your feet. Women of certain ethnicities may be more likely to develop a hidden melanoma than others. If you notice any changes on your skin, make an appointment with your doctor. For everything you need to know about checking yourself for skin cancer, be sure to read "Mole or Melanoma?"
5) A lump in the breast. According to BreastCancer.org, 1 in 8 women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer at some point. Detecting breast cancer early could save thousands of lives each year. Common signs and symptoms of breast cancer include a new lump or mass in the breast. Other signs may include swelling, skin irritation or dimpling.
If you notice any breast changes, talk to your doctor. Putting off a doctor visit could delay treatment and affect your outcomes. Be sure to conduct frequent self-examinations and report any changes you find to your doctor. For more information, be sure to read "Detecting Breast Cancer Early."
6) Leg swelling. Leg swelling is often blamed on sitting for long periods of time while traveling, but don’t dismiss it as harmless just yet. Swelling in both of your legs could indicate issues with your circulatory or lymphatic system. Make an appointment with a doctor if you have noticed any of these symptoms. Swelling in one leg could indicate a blood clot, which has the danger of becoming dislodged and traveling elsewhere in your body. Seek immediate attention if you have leg swelling and chest pain that lasts for several minutes, difficulty breathing or dizziness.
You know your body more than anybody, so if you know something is not right or feels different, it is always best to talk to your doctor. Some symptoms are more serious than others and should be checked out right away.