It is usually difficult to know when you need to see a doctor. Whereas some signs and symptoms could be normal, there are some that might be serious and need immediate medical attention.
While most women think that lumps are the only cause for concern, any changes in your breasts can be a sign of cancer. According to Dr Noleb Mugisha, an oncologist at Uganda Cancer Institute, blood discharges from your nipples and persistent rashes can also signal breast cancer.
Although some women have lumps that are non-cancerous, you will need a biopsy to be sure. It is, therefore, important for you to see a doctor as soon as you notice any changes in your breasts, even the size as long as you are not in your period. Note however, that many women feel tenderness and a general lumpiness while menstruating.
According to Dr Charles Kiggundu, a gynaecologist at Kawempe General Hospital, a burning sensation when you urinate can be a sign of a vaginal or a urinary tract infection.
“Although UTIs are easy to treat, delayed treatment can cause damage to the kidneys. So, the treatment should be as soon as possible.
Finding your underwear with spots from vaginal discharge means your body is cleaning itself normally. However, if you get itching and notice off colours, foul odours, or extremely heavy discharges, then you need to be worried. Dr Kiggundu says these could indicate sexually transmitted or yeast infections, or an overgrowth of vaginal bacteria. You will therefore need to do a pelvic examination to make sure you get proper treatment.
It is normal to bleed from anywhere after a cut or trauma. Also, it you have regular periods, you are considered to be bleeding normally. However, if there is an abnormal change in flow, duration or frequency of your menstrual flow, then you need to see a gynanecologist immediately. “If you are experiencing bleeding or spotting in between your regular cycle, or irregular cycles and you are over 40, you should seek medical advice. Also bleeding after menopause could be a sign of cancer,” says Dr Mugisha.
According to Dr Stephen Watya, a urologist at Uro-Care Hospital, any man should get worried if he finds trouble urinating.
“If you consistently have trouble urinating, see blood in your urine or semen, or if you experience unexplained erectile dysfunction, these could be symptoms of prostate cancer, you need to see a doctor immediately.”
Lump in the testicles
A painless lump in the testicle is the most common sign of testicular cancer, according to Dr Watya. It is important that everyone becomes vigilant, checking the testicles constantly. Other symptoms of the cancer may include the feeling of extra weight in the scrotum, a swelling of the testicle (with or without pain), and/or pain or a dull ache in the testicle, scrotum, or groin.
“You do not have to wait until you get pain. Early diagnosis means treatable and curable cancer,” he warns.
Fatigue is one of the most common complaints of women with heart disease. It may cause one to feel worn out and weary. Besides heart disease, conditions such as thyroid problems, vitamin D deficiency, iron deficiency (Anaemia), lack of sleep and depression can lead to fatigue.
Sharp stomach pain
Stomach pain can indicate something serious. A lot of women brush off stomach pain just as easily, which runs the risk of a ruptured appendix. The pain may also be due to an ovarian cyst or fibroids. In all these cases, you will need surgery. A sharp pain on the upper stomach that moves towards the heart can indicate ulcers or worse still a heart problem.
Unintentional weight loss can mean an underlying health issue, but on the other side excessive weight gain can also signal problems. For some men and women, belly fat may be a marker for heart problems. The more abdominal weight a person carries, the greater his risk of heart disease.
Irregular bowel movements: While what is considered a normal bowel movement varies from person to person, it is usually fairly easy to detect an issue based on changes in smell, shape, color, consistency, and frequency.
Constant fatigue: Usually one can tell the difference between being overtired, even for weeks on end, and feeling fatigued at bizarre times. If you find yourself experiencing the latter, it’s best to visit a doctor for proper tests.
Sudden weight loss: The desire to lose weight is not uncommon, so it is only natural that sudden weight loss may seem like your hard work is finally paying off. But do not be too happy when your weight drops with no explanation, as it could indicate a serious problem.
Shortness of breath: While shortness of breath can stem from intense exercise, extreme temperatures, high altitude, or obesity, it’s worth monitoring. If this comes on suddenly and is pretty severe, call the doctor.