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5 pains to never ignore

Aches and pains happen, and for the most part, they’re harmless. But if you’re experiencing sharp pains, sudden discomfort or any other unusual symptoms, you need to seek help right away to make sure. It’s not a good idea to wait and see if symptoms subside or to self-diagnose. Here are five pains you should never ignore:

Chest pain

It could be: heart attack

You may feel pain, pressure, fullness, tightness or squeezing for more than a few minutes, with the pain or discomfort coming and going. However, women are more likely than men to also experience symptoms such as neck, jaw, shoulder or abdominal pain; trouble breathing; nausea, vomiting or heartburn; sweating; lightheadedness; and fatigue. Other possible conditions causing chest pains include panic attacks and lung diseases such as pneumonia or a blood clot in the lungs.

Abdominal pain

It could be: any number of conditions, depending on the location and severity of the pain

Pain that affects most of your abdomen could be a stomach virus or harmless case of indigestion or gas. Pain that’s confined to a particular area of the abdomen and is severe may be related to a problem with one of your organs such as appendicitis, a gallbladder attack, stomach ulcers or reproductive issues such as ectopic pregnancy, an ovarian cyst, pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis. In general, isolated abdomen pain with no other symptoms (that means no rectal bleeding, nausea, fever or vomiting) is unlikely to be a major problem.

Calf pain

It could be: deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

DVT is a blood clot in one of your deep-lying veins and causes sudden calf pain. The symptoms may worsen when you stand or walk. It can also cause a serious complication called pulmonary embolism, in which a blood clot breaks free in the veins and travels to the lungs. Major surgery, a broken hip or leg or a long plane ride can trigger DVT.

Sudden severe headache

It could be: ruptured brain aneurysm

A brain aneurysm occurs when the wall of a blood vessel weakens, widens or balloons out. When it ruptures, it often causes what’s been described as “the worst headache of your life.” Aneurysms, which may be present from birth or develop later in life, usually don’t cause symptoms unless they rupture and cause bleeding in the brain. Signs that an aneurysm has ruptured in addition to severe headache include confusion, eyelid drooping and vision changes. Since a “brain attack” (the parallel of a heart attack) needs to be diagnosed and treated within 3 hours for optimal outcome, people need to act quickly if they have any of the aforementioned symptoms. Strokes can also cause a sudden headache.

Foot or leg pain

It could be: diabetic nerve damage

Shooting pains, burning, tingling or numbness in your extremities could signal diabetic neuropathy. Diabetes causes high blood sugar levels, which, in turn, results in nerve damage. Diabetic neuropathy can also cause nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, urinary problems and dizziness.