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Senior man suffering from chest pain at home

5 Medical Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore

With age sometimes comes pain that you may not have experienced before. This could include everything from lower back and joint pain to soreness that shifts throughout different areas of your body.

But when is the pain serious enough to see a doctor? Sometimes this is a difficult question to answer, but in many cases persistent pain could indicate a more serious problem. We all know our bodies, and when something is wrong we often have an inkling that it is.

Between 50-85 percent of elderly adults who live independently or in care facilities experience chronic pain, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore certain types or feelings of pain. Whether it’s chest pain, muscle weakness or a severe headache, here’s a list of certain medical symptoms that may be a sign that it’s time to visit your doctor.


Certain people experience heartburn after eating. However, sometimes people who are at risk for a heart attack don’t recognize heartburn as a warning sign of a larger issue. Heartburn can cause chest pain, which also is one of the symptoms of heart disease. If you experience persistent heartburn in which the symptoms don’t go away after you belch, it may not be heartburn at all. It could be a cardiac issue that requires immediate attention, so don’t hesitate to see a doctor as soon as possible.

Ongoing heartburn also can cause acid reflux and damage to your ulcer and esophagus. In some cases, heartburn may be a precursor to cancers of the stomach and throat. If you have heartburn or difficulty swallowing for three weeks or more, you should see a doctor.

Chest Pain

Several things can cause chest pain, such as stress, a cold or cough. However, chest pain, chest heaviness and tightness also may signal heart problems, issues with your esophagus, lungs or nerves. If you have additional symptoms such as shortness of breath, vomiting, sweating and extreme fatigue, it could be more serious. It’s hard to know the cause of chest pain without a thorough medical evaluation, so if you’re in doubt, please check it out.

Muscle Weakness

Weakness or numbness in your arms or legs could be a sign of stroke, especially if these symptoms occur in one isolated area of your body. Often referred to as a “mini-stroke,” weakness in the limbs in these instances are often the result of neurologic symptoms. If you also experience short stretches where you have difficulty talking or blurry vision, you should be concerned. Strokes often are reversible if they’re caught early. Waiting for these symptoms to resolve themselves and not seeing a doctor could affect your prognosis if in fact it is a stroke.

A Bad Headache

Many people suffer from migraines or tension headaches. However, problems with blood vessels and bleeding in the brain also can cause headaches. If your headache is so severe that it interrupts your normal routine, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to find out what may be happening.

While headaches can be common, you should be concerned if you have a fever, nausea or stiff neck along with your headache, if you have blurry vision and pain while chewing, or if you have a sudden, explosive headache that is the worse you’ve ever experienced.

Blood in Urine

The only thing that should appear in the toilet when you pee is urine. If you see red, this isn’t normal.

Blood in your urine, along with back or side pain, could be a sign of kidney stones. Kidney stones are small pieces of mineral and salt that form inside the kidneys. The condition affects 1 in 11 people in the United States, so it’s fairly common. Though some kidney stones may pass when you use the bathroom, other are more severe, are extremely painful and require help from a doctor for removal.

Blood in your urine also could be a sign of a kidney or bladder infection. You may have an infection if you experience this symptom along with a frequent urge to pee or a burning sensation when you use the bathroom. In some cases, blood in urine may indicate kidney or bladder cancer. If you are worried about this symptom, schedule an appointment to see your doctor right away.

The physicians at MetroHealth understand the health challenges that seniors face, and we’re here to help you along the way. If you have questions or concerns about your health, contact us today. We will be happy to assist you.

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