We hope you'll call an ambulance if you suspect you’re having a heart attack or stroke. However, other symptoms are easy to dismiss as something minor but which sometimes need further investigation. Here are some symptoms you shouldn’t ignore.
Unexplained weight loss
Unexplained weight loss can be a sign of various conditions. It’s only generally a problem if you can’t think of a reason for it. If you’ve been trying to lose weight through diet and exercise, reducing the number on the scales is excellent news. Equally, some weight loss makes sense if you’ve been ill or eating less for another reason.
However, if you haven’t changed anything and are still losing weight, it’s worth getting it checked. Unexplained weight loss is generally a sign that something isn’t quite right with your health and metabolism. It can happen for many reasons, so go and see your GP for a check-up.
Night Pain or Unremitting pain
We can all get aches and pains from time to time but usually discomfort from inflammation or mechanical pain will often settle if you take painkillers or move around. Night pain can sometimes be a sign of an underlying health issue. If pain wakes you up two or three times a week and you struggle to get back to sleep because your pain isn't easing, seek medical advice, especially if painkillers don’t help.
We’re always happy to have a chat and check to see what’s going on. We often sleep less as we age, but if it's the pain that is waking you up and you can’t get back to sleep because you’re in pain, don’t brush it off.
Night sweats are a classic symptom of menopause; if you’re of the right age and sex, that could be the right explanation. However, night sweats can also be a sign that your immune system isn’t happy or is fighting something off.
We are looking for changes and patterns in symptoms so keeping a rough symptom diary can be useful.
Night sweats can happen for many reasons, some more serious than others. If they happen in combination with other symptoms, such as night pain, getting them checked is a good idea, no matter how old you are.
With any new symptom, asking yourself whether anything has changed recently is a good idea. For example, if you’ve started doing more exercise, you might get a few aches and pains or feel more thirsty than usual. A hectic day with lots of physical activity could leave you feeling a bit sore. However, if those symptoms are still there a few weeks later, speak to your GP or a physiotherapist.
Bladder or bowel issues
Bladder and bowel problems can happen because of a change in your diet, certain medications or a virus, but they can also point to other issues. It’s always important to pay attention to bladder problems in particular if you have back pain. If you feel that you need to go to the loo but can’t, or you experience incontinence, go for a check-up to see what’s happening.
Some people also get something called saddle anaesthesia, which can feel like numbness, pins and needles or a strange sensation where you wipe after you’ve used the loo.
As with many symptoms, there can be more than one explanation, but it’s important that you don’t ignore any issues with your bladder or bowel.
Look for patterns
It can be tempting to Google new symptoms, but it won’t necessarily give you the correct explanation. Medical professionals will look for patterns. We often see patients whose symptoms seem like a minor niggle on their own but need further investigation when they happen together. We can sometimes tell you when you need to see your GP and will even advise you about what to say so they understand what’s happening. Sometimes, you might have a gut instinct that something isn’t right, but it can be hard to explain.
A physiotherapist often has more time than a GP to take a history and see whether your symptoms need further investigation.
It can be easy to ignore or put some symptoms down to your age. However, if you have symptoms that don’t resolve or that you can’t explain, get medical advice. A physiotherapist can help you, or you can go and see your GP for a check-up.