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Common symptoms that can turn into nasty things

Abraham Eisenstein, M.D. |
When you or your child have some common symptoms, say fever or chills or diarrhea, you usually think about most common conditions. However, there are literally hundreds of conditions that start with same symptoms, so in some cases it's a good idea to see the doctor.

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When your doctor ask you to describe why you came, try to explain how you feel in detail. When it started, what you feel, what you ate, are there any other cases in the family... Doctors are educated and will ask you that but you can help them a lot. And the faster your doctor comes up with a diagnosis, the better. Sometimes, that's a life-saving situation. So, let's see some common symptoms that can turn into nasty things.

So, you have fever, chills, and weakness. Sounds like a stronger cold or flu, it's just that you don't remember where you caught it. If those symptoms are followed with abdominal pain and diarrhea that fits in flu too but it can also be - food poisoning. Toxins made by bacteria, viruses, and parasites in food cause poisoning that can range from mild to life-threatening. It is very easy to catch that at home if food is incorrectly handled or cooked. Symptoms can start within hours of eating contaminated food, so if you are going to see your doctor mention him what you ate.

OK, you have a fever and abdominal pain and you think "I'll never eat in that restaurant again," and maybe it is a restaurant but if you see bloody diarrhea it's not about the restaurant, it's about dirty hands. You know, shigellosis is what you have. This is an intestinal disease caused by bacteria called shigella. Shigella can be passed through contact with the bacteria in the stool. A typical case: A child care setting where staff members don't wash their hands after changing diapers. Mild cases go away within a week with no treatment, in more severe cases antibiotics can help.

While we are at antibiotics, you should know they can cause stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, itching, rashes, and dizziness. So, those symptoms may belong to your condition but they can also be caused by antibiotics; your doctor will recognize what it is.

Another condition that may look similar to flu is the stomach flu. Diarrhea and vomiting can make you feel really bad because your stomach and intestines are irritated and inflamed by a viral or bacterial infection. You may also feel fever, headache, and nausea. Since vomiting is involved you can become dehydrated very easily. If you have dry skin and a dry mouth, maybe feeling lightheaded, and are thirsty like hell, go and see your doctor. Your condition is not serious but dehydration can lead to very serious issues.

Fever, chest pain, and coughing can also lead us to a fungal infection called valley fever. It is caused by coccidioides organisms, fungi that can be found in the soil in specific areas and can be lifted in the air by wind or farming or anything else that stirs the ground. Then you breathe them in and your lungs are not very happy then. Luckily, mild cases don't need any treatment but in more severe cases antifungal drugs are needed to treat the underlying infection. Pay attention if you are working on ground and feel cough, chest pain, headache, fatigue, and if you notice red and spotty rash.

If, especially in the cold months, you have a sore throat, scratchiness in the throat and difficulty swallowing, you may think "This cold will never go away!" However, it may be that you don't have long cold but viral pharyngitis. This is a condition caused by a virus and it's in fact an inflammation of the pharynx (this is the back of the throat).

If you are exposed to cold and flu, maybe you are working in a kindergarten or in the hospital, you will catch pharyngitis sooner or later. Not to mention allergies and sinus infections, those are condition that pharyngitis loves. If you think you have it, go and see the doctor.

One nasty condition that includes nausea and vomiting is intussusception. That happens when a part of the intestine is pulled into another section of intestine. That, obviously, causes an obstruction and the result is very bad overall condition, pulling legs to the chest, and abdominal pain coming and going in waves. This is a very serious condition because body can't throw poisonous substances out and there is a risk of infection, so when you see those symptoms go and see the doctor immediately. Like in "Right now!"

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