Your husband says he has a nagging pain below his ribs, chest tightness that won’t quit or has simply been feeling sluggish lately, but doesn’t feel like calling his doctor (or doesn’t have one). Here are three symptoms he (and you) should take seriously.
Causes of chest pain range from everyday muscle aches to life-threatening heart attacks. Sure, it’s embarrassing to head to the emergency department only to be told you pulled a muscle, but if your problem is a blocked coronary artery, for example, you’ll want to get to the hospital ASAP to prevent heart damage.
Still tempted to suss things out yourself? Chest pain that comes and goes is less likely to be serious, as is stabbing pain limited to a very specific part of the chest. (Please note: It's less likely, not impossible, that these are symptoms of a cardiac episode, so seek medical attention for any chest pain.) A common heart attack symptom is severe, crushing pain. If you feel this, call 911 rather than spending extra time driving to the hospital.
Any chest pain could be serious and not every heart attack is accompanied by typical symptoms, so watch for nausea, sweating, anxiety, fainting and indigestion, especially when coupled with discomfort in the chest, jaw or left arm.
This is a symptom with a high “yuck” factor. No one wants to hear about what’s happening behind the bathroom door? But blood in the toilet bowl (which can also appear as a very dark or almost black stool) can be a symptom of gastrointestinal bleeding, ulcers, colon cancer and a host of other nasties—or a harmless hemorrhoid.
Visit a physician to follow-up on this sometimes-serious symptom and keep track of a few key indicators:
Although we typically associate depression with symptoms like sadness and disinterest in everyday activities, low energy, fatigue and irritability can be harbingers of depression in men. Because depression can exacerbate a host of somatic symptoms, including lingering aches and pains, men should address persistent listlessness that interferes with their enjoyment of everyday life.
Depression in men can be exacerbated by desires to “tough it out” and a reluctance to seek medical help for vague symptoms like irritability and tiredness. Yet, untreated depression can lead to issues from workplace absenteeism to addiction and even brain atrophy. Luckily, addressing this issue can begin quite simply; many primary care providers can provide a basic screening during an annual physical.
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