Symptoms one should not ignore

Abdominal pain

Possible reasons
Suggested Action

Pain around and below navel accompanied by gas

Constipation or flatulence

Over the counter drugs like anti-gas or laxative. If pain persists for more than 2 weeks call doctor

Sudden pain around navel; accompanied by nausea, fever, vomiting, loss of appetite, pressure to have bowel movement


Go to the doctor. Appendicitis must be treated quickly or else it may get ruptured and leak infected fluid into other parts of abdomen.

Sudden pain in right abdomen that may radiate to other parts of the abdomen or back.

Gall stones or gallbladder infection

Visit doctor, if pain persists or worsen after eating greasy food

Sudden pain below navel that radiates to either side of the navel

A colon disorder, a urinary tract infection or pelvic inflammatory disease

If pain persists or continue to worsens call the doctor, who may advice diagnostic tests.

A burning sensation just below the breastbone, particularly after large meal

Heartburn (reflux)

Take 0ver the counter antacids and avoid greasy foods.

Sudden sharp pain near lower ribs that radiates down the groin

Kidney stones

Visit doctor and increase intake of fluids

Mild pain or discomfort that comes on slowly and continues for weeks or months accompanied by diarrhea, constipation or bloating

A chronic ailment such as lactose intolerance, irritable, bowel syndrome, ulcers or food allergies

Visit doctor who may refer you to gastroenterologists for follow up


Blood in stools

Possible reasons
Suggested Action

Black stools with no other symptoms

Consuming blueberries, lead, iron pills, tomatoes or beets

Stop eating the food that you might think is the causative agent. If then also color dosen't returns to normal then visit the doctor.

Maroon or bright red stools accompanied with the pain and pressure during bowel movements

Anal fissures or hemorrhoids

Over  the counter hemorrhoid creams or ointments. If symptoms persists visit doctor and surgery may be required.

Maroon or bright red stools accompanied by discomfort in the lower abdomen and other GI symptoms like gas, constipation or diarrhea or pain 

Conditions like ulcerative colitis, crohn's disease, a tumor or benign or cancerous polyps 

See you doctor who may prescribe you diagnostic tests like x-ray, ultrasound etc. and may further refer to gastroenterologists

Black and tarry stools accompanied by burning in stomach and esophagus

 An ulcer in upper gastro intestinal tract

Visit your doctor who may advice you endoscopy

Blood in the urine

Possible reasons
Suggested Action

Blood in the urine after starting a new medication

A side effect of drugs such as aspirin, cancer drugs, some antibiotics

One should see the doctor as soon as possible.

Blood in the urine accompanied by fever and back pain

Kidney Infection

Visit your doctor. Generally an antibiotic is prescribed when bacterial infection in the urinary tract has moved to kidneys.

Blood in the urine accompanied by severe pain

Kidney stones

See your doctor. An abdominal X-ray or CT scan may be prescribed.

Un explained blood in the urine with no other symptoms

Bladder cancer, Kidney cancer or a genetic disorder

Visit your doctor, who may prescribe diagnostic tests (CT Scans, ultrasound)

In men, Blood in the urine accompanied by difficulty in urinating

Prostate gland enlargement

Visit doctor. Treatment will include medication or laser to destroy excess prostate tissue.

Pink, red or brownish urine accompanied by pain, burning during urinating

Urinary tract infection

Visit your doctor who may prescribe diagnostic urinalysis. Treatment is usually oral antibiotic.


Possible reasons
Suggested Action

Sudden diarrhea for no apparent reason

Viral infection

Symptoms usually clears up within few days

Diarrhea after eating certain foods

Food allergy

Eliminate the trigger food from the diet

Diarrhea starting 2-6 hours after a meal

A bacterial infection caused by spoiled, undercooked and contaminated food.

Symptoms usually clears up within few days. Avoid solid foods until stools return to the normal


Diarrhea while travelling in a foreign country

An infection caused by contaminated water; mostly due to bacterial infections

Symptoms usually clears up within 1-2 days. If they persists with other symptoms like vomiting, headache, Visit doctor immediately.

Diarrhea that lasts for more than 4 weeks

A chronic condition such as crohn's disease, lactose intolerance irritable bowel syndrome

Visit your doctor who may refer to a gastroenterlogists.


Possible reasons
Suggested Action

Occasional constipation maybe accompanied by bloating, feeling of fullness, and need to strain to have bowel movements

Poor diet, not enough exercise or too much alcohol or caffeine

Symptoms generally clears up with healthy diet and plenty of fluids and fibre.

Constipation accompanied by bloating, gas or pain

A disease or condition of the colon or rectum such as diverticular disease, tumors or scar tissue in the intestines

Visit the doctor who may order diagnostic tests

Constipation after staring a new medication

Side effect of medications such as pain killers, antacids, calcium channel blockers

Visit your doctor if ant other drug should be substituted

Constipation that occurs regularly and is accompained by abdominal pain and bloating 

Irritable bowel syndrome

Visit your doctor who may prescribe medications and fibre supplements

Changes in appetite

Possible reasons
Suggested Action

Decrease appetite accompanied by fatigue, hair loss or decrease cold tolerance

Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)

Visit your doctor and he will advice you diagnostic tests

Increase appetite accompanied by insomnia, excessive thirst, increased sweating or hair loss

Hyperthyroidism (grave's disease) or other hormone imbalance

Visit your doctor and he will advice you diagnostic tests

Decreased appetite accompanied by other symptoms like change in bowel habits; fatigue; nausea; urine or vomiting


Visit doctor who may advise you diagnostic tests

Increased appetite after starting a new medication

A side effect of medications such as corticosteroids, antidepressants or some allergic medications

Talk to your doctor, he may change the medicine

Decreased appetite after starting new medication

A side effects of drugs like cancer drugs, some antibiotics, narcotic pain relievers

Talk to your doctor, he may change the medicine. Some tome side effects disappear after few days or weeks of taking medications


Possible reasons
Suggested Action

Mild increase in fever with no other symptoms

Exercise, menstruation, heavy clothing, heat

Normal body temperature is 98.6 F.

A moderate fever (100.5-104.5 F) accompanied by nasal discharge, sore throat, cough, earache, vomiting or diarrhea

A viral or bacterial infection such as cold or fl, throat infection, ear infection, bronchitis or urinary tract infection

Antipyretics like Ibuprofen can reduce fever. If fever lasts for 3 days call doctor.

A high fever accompanied by confusion, stiff neck, difficulty in breathing, hallucinations

A viral or bacterial infection, kidney infection or other serious condition

Go to emergency especially if patient seems lethargic or unresponsive. Or Visit to the doctor

Fever after starting a new medication

Side effects of medications like antibiotics, antihistamines, anti seizures medications and hypertension drugs

Talk to the doctor and enquire of medicines need to be changed

A mild fever that occurs after vaccination

A side effect of routine immunizations like diphtheria, tetanus and pneumonia

Fever usually subsides in a day or two.

A rapid dramatic increase in body temperature after exposure to heat, sun accompanied by rapid pulse, nausea and disorientation

Heat stroke or heat exhaustion

Move to cool place. Drink cool water. If symptoms persists call an ambulance.

Fever accompanied with other unexplained symptoms like weight loss, muscle or joint aches or stomach pains

A wide variety of conditions and disease like cancer, ulcerative colitis, crohn's disease, HIV/AIDS or autoimmune diseases

Visit your doctor.

Chronic Cough

Possible reasons
Suggested Action

A cough accompanied by postnasal drip, repeated throat clearing, nasal discharge or phlegm

Allergies or sinus infection

Visit doctor, who may prescribe allergic medicine.

A cough after starting to take an ACE inhibitor

A drug side effect; ACE inhibitors cause dry cough in 5 to 10% of patients

Talk to the doctor, he may substitute with another drug.

A nighttime cough that brings wheezing or rattling sound


Visit to doctor who may prescribe a bronchodilator

A cough with heartburn that occur more than twice a week

Gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Visit to the doctor who may prescribe antacids to inhibit stomach acid production

A cough that worsens with the time and accompanied by fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath

Lung cancer

Visit your doctor who may prescribe diagnostic tests

A dry cough accompanied by shortness of breadth

Chronic Obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Visit your doctor, who may do a test to measure lung capacity and order chest X-ray

Confusion and memory loss

Possible reasons
Suggested Action

Sudden confusion or memory loss

Head injury or concussion

Take patient to the hospitals

During elderly stages, memory loss or confusion that begins gradually and does not interfere much with everyday life

Normal age related memory loss

Keep mind active and engaged in crosswords and puzzles.

During elderly stages, memory loss or confusion that begins gradually/suddenly and interferes much with everyday life. 


Take patient to the hospital

Sudden confusion: associated with blurred vision, slurred speech, sudden numbness on one side of the body. 

Stroke or transient ischemic attack

Visit hospital. Early and prompt treatment can save your life.

Confusion that results gradually after a period of vomiting, diarrhea or exposure to heat or sunlight 


Rehydrate by drinking lots of water

Memory loss or confusion after starting a new medication

Side effects of certain medications like benzodiazepines or barbiturates

Talk to your doctor about the symptoms, he might prescribe you another medication

Chest Pain

Possible reasons
Suggested Action

Squeezing, tightening pain that usually occurs around breastbone and may radiate to the jaws, back or teeth


Visit to the doctor immediately

Sharp pain that worsens with cough or deep breathing

A lung condition such as pneumonia, collapsed lung or inflammation of the lungs

Visit doctor

Burning pain accompanied by GI symptoms such as indigestion or reflux

An ulcer, pancreatic disease or an inflamed gall bladder

Visit doctor

Pain accompanied by anxiety racing pulse or shortness of breath

Panic attack

Breathe deeply and try to relax.  Panic attack symptoms can mimic those of more serious conditions such as heart attack.

Excessive thirst 

Possible reasons
Suggested Action

Thirst accompanied by chest pain, increased or decreased urination

Heart, liver or kidney failure

Call your doctor immediately

Thirst after starting a new medication

A side effects of drugs such as diuretic, antihistamines, some antidepressants  

Visit your doctor. He might change your drug.

Thirst accompanied by increased urination, unexplained weight loss, increased hunger


Visit you doctor who might test your blood sugar levels

A strong desire to drink with no other symptoms or with increased urination

Psychogenic polydipsia

Visit doctor

Thirst accompanied by excessive urination

Central diabetes insipidus, a rare disorder caused by a deficiency of certain kidney proteins necessary to manage fluid balance

See your doctor, who might order diagnostic blood tests


Wait M, Ed, Supercharge your health, proven ways to prevent illness, The Reader's Digest Assoc. Inc, New York ,2009




  • PUBLISHED DATE : Apr 03, 2015
  • LAST UPDATED ON : Aug 11, 2016


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