Oftentimes a serious health issue can come seemingly out of nowhere. But chances are there were warning signs along the way that indicated an underlying bigger problem. Being aware of possible early symptoms could mean the difference between life and death. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Santoshi Billakota, MD, an Adult Neurologist Epileptologist and Clinical Assistant Professor within the Department of Neurology at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, who revealed 7 signs to watch out for. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Worst Headache of Your Life
Dr. Billakota says, “Many people have headaches and migraines (roughly 40 million in the US alone), but if you have a headache that is different than what you usually have, that can be a red flag indicating something bigger- like a subarachnoid hemorrhage, which can be due to burst aneurysm leading to bleeding in the area that surrounds the brain. If you are having the worst headache of your life, make sure you go to the emergency room right away.”
According to Dr. Billakota, “About 3% of the general population can have a first time seizure, however, only about 1/3 of these people go on to have a second seizure. A first time seizure can be scary, but does not always equal epilepsy. It can, however, be a sign of something bigger, like a brain tumor or other neurological condition. If you have had a first seizure of life, make sure you see a neurologist right away.”
While it’s true that many people don’t have 20/20 vision, sudden eyesight problems could be a warning sign, says Dr. Billakota. “Having trouble with vision and eye issues are common and generally benign, but sudden vision loss in one or both eyes can indicate something bigger, like multiple sclerosis or even a stroke. If you are having sudden changes or loss of vision, please get checked out right away.”
Dr. Billakota states, “Syncope, or fainting, is seen fairly commonly, in as much as 40% of the general population. However, if you’re a young person and you’re having sudden bouts of fainting, especially while exercising, make sure you get this checked out right away. This could suggest bigger heart issues, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or certain arrhythmias which can be deadly.”
“Many people experience dizziness or vertigo, however, if it is sudden in onset, it could suggest a bigger issue, like a posterior circulation stroke or a vertebral dissection. These can progress to worsening paralysis and even death in some cases,” Dr. Billakota explains.
Running out of breath can be common, but it’s something to pay attention to Dr. Billakota warns.
“We all get short of breath with exercise and exertion. However, if you start having shortness of breath while at rest and it presents with sharp chest pains, be cautioned this might suggest a pulmonary embolism. People at higher risks are women on estrogen supplementation (like birth control), women who have recently given birth, smokers, folks with high body fat, people who are relatively sedentary. Having diseases such as stroke, heart disease, or high blood pressure also increases this risk.”
Dr. Billakota says, “New and sudden onset issues with bowel and bladder control can be very dangerous. This may involve incontinence (trouble holding in bladder or bowels) or issues with retention (trouble with voiding). If this is accompanied with lower extremity weakness or “saddle anesthesia”, which means numbness around your perineum, thighs and buttocks, this could be a sign of a serious spinal cord issue that should get checked out immediately!” And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.