High cholesterol symptoms, signs and risk factors

If you look up WebMD for “high cholesterol symptoms”, it will tell you that high cholesterol has no symptoms. If you look up Mayo clinic website for “high cholesterol symptoms”, it will give you signs and symptoms of heart attacks and strokes because high cholesterol increases your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.

Yes, most people with high cholesterol have no symptoms or only have symptoms of heart attacks and strokes. However, you still need to know the physical signs of high cholesterol. There are high cholesterol symptoms that you need to be aware of. There are early signs of high cholesterol that you should not ignore.

When you turn 40, you need to get your cholesterol checked even without any high cholesterol symptoms. However, if you have any of the physical symptoms of high cholesterol, you need to get your cholesterol checked early. That’s why it’s still important to learn high cholesterol symptoms , signs and risk factors ,despite the fact that most people with high cholesterol do not have any symptoms.

High cholesterol symptoms, signs and risk factors;

  1. Xanthoma or cholesterol bump: should not be ignored.
  2. Xanthelasma: Eyelid cholesterol plaques
  3. Corneal arcus: grayish or yellowish opaque colored ring or arc around the eyes
  4. Obesity
  5. High blood pressure
  6. Sedentary Lifestyle
  7. Increased abdominal girth
  8. Type 2 diabetes symptoms
  9. Symptoms of low thyroid
  10. Symptoms of coronary heart disease at a young age
  11. Symptoms of stroke or mini stroke at a young age
  12. Symptoms of poor blood circulation in the legs
  13. Erectile dysfunction in men
  14. History of parents or close relatives having heart attacks or strokes at a young age

High cholesterol symptoms in the eyes

High blood cholesterol symptoms eyes XanthelasmaEyelid cholesterol plaques are one of the important high cholesterol warning signs that you can find in the eyes. These plaques are yellowish in color and they usually affect upper inner eyelids but may also affect lower inner eyelids. If you see these plaques in your eyes, you need to think about high cholesterol symptoms.
Eyes with grayish or yellowish ring around the outer cornea (corneal arcus) may be one of the physical signs of high cholesterol, especially if they are found in people under 40 years of age.

High cholesterol symptoms on the skin

A cholesterol bump is a yellow to bump in the skin with clearly visible borders. These cholesterol bumps can be found solitary or in groups. They can be present anywhere in your body. However, these are the more common areas where cholesterol bumps frequently appear: buttocks, low back, elbows, joints, tendons, knees, hands, or feet. Cholesterol bumps are important physical signs of high cholesterol.

Side effects of certain medications can also cause high cholesterol. Examples of cholesterol raising medications include steroids such as prednisone, certain diuretics, amiodarone, clyclosporine etc. If you are taking medications that have high cholesterol as side effects, you need to get your cholesterol checked.

Early signs of high cholesterol problems

early signs of high cholesterol problems, childhood obesityChildhood obesity may be one of the early signs of high cholesterol problems.

Signs of high cholesterol in women

Signs of high cholesterol in women may not be apparent until their hormone levels start to drop later in life. The female hormone has some protective effect on women’s cholesterol levels. However, women with any of the above 13 high cholesterol symptoms signs and risk factors need to get their cholesterol checked earlier rather than later. Women may also have atypical symptoms of heart disease and they may not be diagnosed early. That’s why it’s especially important look out for the signs of high cholesterol in women.

High cholesterol symptoms in men

High cholesterol symptoms in men includes erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction in men caused by high cholesterol is one of the manifestations of blood vessel damage caused by high cholesterol.

What is high cholesterol?

The simple answer to this question “What is high cholesterol?” has fundamentally changed in the last few years. Cholesterol level in not a single number anymore. High cholesterol numbers include different types of cholesterol and fats in the blood.

High cholesterol numbers

High cholesterol numbers that you can use to interpret your blood cholesterol comes from a simple blood test called fasting lipid profile. Fasting lipid profile gives you total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

Here are the high cholesterol numbers you need to know:

Total cholesterol: Ignore this number. This number, in itself, is not useful anymore.

LDL cholesterol: This is the bad cholesterol number. It is one of the most important high cholesterol numbers. Optimal LDL cholesterol number is less than 70mg/dl. LDL cholesterol number of 190mg/dl is very high and will need treatment with a statin drug in most patients. LDL cholesterol numbers between 70mg/dl and 189mg/dl needs treatment if you have risk factors for heart attack and strokes.Based on recent studies, they don’t recommend further classifying the LDL cholesterol levels between 70mg/dl and 190mg/dl.

HDL cholesterol: This is the good cholesterol. A higher HDL cholesterol number is considered better for you. Higher than 60mg/dl is a good HDL cholesterol number. Lower than 40mg/dl is too low. However, these HDL cholesterol numbers are not used in isolation these days. HDL cholesterol and total cholesterol numbers help identify your risk for heart attacks and strokes when used with other personal data in the risk factor calculator.

Triglycerides: Visit this article on high triglycerides symptoms to understand this number.

What is a good cholesterol level?

Based on recent research and recommendations, there is no single answer to the question “What is a good cholesterol level?”

A good cholesterol level for you depends on your risk factors for heart attack and strokes. If you already had a heart attack or stroke, no cholesterol level is good enough for you. You still need statin medication to lower your bad cholesterol further down.

If you are healthy and physically active and don’t have any other risks for heart attacks and strokes, you only need to look at your LDL cholesterol level. If your LDL is less than 189mg/dl, you are good. You just need to keep your healthy lifestyle.

What causes high cholesterol? What causes ldl cholesterol to be high?

When we speak of high cholesterol causes, we are mainly talking about high LDL cholesterol causes. We want HDL cholesterol to be high.

Here are some of the high cholesterol causes:

  1. Genetics
  2. Eating foods that cause high cholesterol
  3. Physical inactivity
  4. Obesity
  5. Male sex
  6. Age

Your genetic profile is the most important factor that causes LDL cholesterol to be high. If you inherited the genes that cause high cholesterol, you will develop high cholesterol symptoms.

Foods that cause high cholesterol

Recent medical research has drastically changed our understanding of foods that cause high cholesterol. They used to think that foods high in fat and cholesterol were the kind of foods that caused your blood cholesterol to go up. However, they have realized that eating cholesterol does not raise cholesterol. Eating fat may raise or lower your LDL cholesterol depending on what type of fat you eat.

Good fats(unsaturated natural fats) decrease your LDL cholesterol. Bad artificial fats( trans-fat or hydrogenated fat) raises your cholesterol levels. The jury is still out on natural saturated fat.

Artificial fats are the worst foods that cause high cholesterol. Here is a list of such foods to avoid for high cholesterol:

  1. Anything that lists partially hydrogenated vegetable oil as an ingredient
  2. Non-dairy creamer
  3. Certain cake frosting
  4. Certain vegetable shortening
  5. Artificial butter
  6. Margarines made with hydrogenated vegetable oil
  7. Frosted donuts
  8. Deep fried foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil

In conclusion, the most important foods to avoid for high cholesterol includes anything with unnatural, artificial or industrially manufactured fat.

Causes of high cholesterol levels in women

In general, causes of high cholesterol levels in women are similar to causes of high cholesterol in men. However, men have higher risk of high cholesterol than women. The risk of high cholesterol in women start to go up after menopause and gradually increase with age. The hormonal changes associated with menopause seem to be the causes of high cholesterol levels in women in the post-menopausal state.

How to lower cholesterol naturally?

If you have a history of heart attacks or strokes, you should not rely on ways to lower LDL cholesterol without drugs. If you at high risk for heart attacks and strokes, you need to take statins( a class of medications to treat high LDL) in addition to following these recommendations to lower cholesterol naturally.

Diet for high cholesterol

Dietary changes are the most effective ways to lower cholesterol naturally. The most common mistake people make when looking for foods to lower cholesterol is that they look for low cholesterol food list. It is a myth that low cholesterol food lowers your cholesterol level. Food that are low in cholesterol (low cholesterol food list) are not the same as foods to lower cholesterol. Eating cholesterol is not the main cause of high cholesterol. Most of the cholesterol in your blood is made inside your body.

Here are some of the foods to eat to lower cholesterol

Foods high in fiber: Medical research on oatmeals and cholesterol has shown that foods high in fiber can lower cholesterol significantly. So, how much does oatmeal lower cholesterol? The answer is anywhere from 7% to 15% in different studies. Most studies had participants taking one to one and a half cup of oatmeal. Here are some other foods to eat to lower cholesterol by increasing fiber in your diet: Oat bran, whole grains, brown rice, black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, whole barley, eggplants, okra , and soybeans.

Foods high in good natural fats: Fatty fish, olive oil, avocado, nuts etc

Foods high in pectin: Apples, grapes, strawberries, and other citrous fruits

Exercise for high cholesterol

After diet, regular long term exercise is one of the most effective ways to lower LDL cholesterol without drugs.

How to raise hdl cholesterol naturally?

Most of the natural ways to lower LDL cholesterol without drugs also help raise HDL cholesterol naturally. The most important foods that raise HDL cholesterol naturally includes foods high in natural good fats such as nuts, olive oil, fatty fish, and avocado. Foods high in pectin and antioxidants such as fresh fruits and vegetables also help increase HDL.

High triglycerides symptoms

Are your triglycerides high?

Before knowing high triglyceride symptoms, you need to know what triglycerides are. Simply speaking, triglycerides are fats. Triglycerides are called “fat” when they are solid and called “oil” when they are liquid. Here are some household examples of triglycerides: animal fat, olive oil, corn oil, butter, whale oil, fish oil, and belly fat.

To understand basic triglyceride structure and triglyceride function, please read this detailed article on triglycerides meaning.

In this article, we will focus on triglyceride levels, triglycerides normal range, and high triglyceride symptoms, causes and treatment.

Measurement of triglyceride levels

Triglyceride levels are usually measured when you get your cholesterol checked. Triglyceride levels are a part of a panel of blood tests called “Lipid Profile”. The triglycerides test is usually done in the morning before breakfast. “Fasting lipid profile” is the proper name of the panel of blood tests that includes triglycerides test.

In the United States triglyceride levels are measure in milligrams per deciliter or mg/dl.

Triglycerides level chart

  • Normal fasting triglyceride level: less than 150mg/dl
  • Borderline high fasting triglyceride level: 150-199mg/dl
  • High fasting triglyceride level: 200-499 mg/dl
  • Very high fasting triglyceride level: 500-999mg/dl
  • Extremely high fasting triglyceride level: greater than 1000mg/dl

Triglycerides normal range

What is the normal range for triglycerides?

Fasting triglyceride levels of less than 150mg/dl are considered normal triglyceride levels by most medical societies. As you may have noticed, there is no low number defined in the triglycerides normal range.

There is not a low cutoff in the triglycerides normal range because lower triglyceride levels are considered more optimal.

However, there are some rare situations that can cause abnormally low triglycerides. Although not strictly defined in the medical literature, triglyceride levels of less than 50mg/dl or 25mg/dl are considered low triglycerides. Low triglycerides do not cause any problems by themselves. However, if your triglyceride levels come back too low, you need to think about other problems that may cause low triglycerides. For example, Low triglycerides may be a sign of malnutrition, anorexia, malabsorption, wasting from cancer, or very overactive thyroid.

What do high triglycerides do? What happens when your triglycerides are high? Read on.

Borderline high triglycerides symptoms

Triglyceride levels between 150mg/dl to 199mg/dl is considered borderline high triglyceride levels. Borderline high triglyceride levels do not usually cause any symptoms and they do not require any specific treatment. People with borderline high triglycerides that have cardiovascular risk factors should first focus on how to increase HDL cholesterol (normal hdl levels >40mg/dl, >60mg/dl desirable for protection against heart disease) and decrease LDL cholesterol before thinking about lowering triglycerides. Your cholesterol HDL ratio and non HDL cholesterol levels are more important than borderline high triglycerides.

Moderate high triglycerides symptoms

Triglyceride levels between 200mg/dl to 499mg/dl are considered moderate high triglyceride levels. Moderate high triglycerides may not cause any symptoms but you may see associated symptoms of other related conditions in people with moderate high triglycerides.

Symptoms associated with moderate high triglycerides

  1. Obesity
  2. Increased abdominal girth
  3. Sedentary lifestyle
  4. Lack of exercise
  5. Alcohol use
  6. Type 2 Diabetes symptoms
  7. Metabolic syndrome symptoms

Very high triglycerides symptoms: what does it mean if your triglycerides are over 500

Triglyceride levels between 500mg/dl to 999mg/dl are considered very high triglyceride levels. Very high triglycerides symptoms include symptoms of cardiovascular disease because very high triglycerides can directly lead to cardiovascular problems.

Very high triglycerides may not directly cause symptoms but the following conditions should make you think about the possibility of very high triglycerides :

  1. Symptoms of cardiovascular disease at a young age
  2. Central obesity: Excessive abdominal fat around your abdomen
  3. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
  4. Poor unhealthy diet high in simple processed carbs and sugary drinks
  5. Family members with very high triglycerides
  6. Poorly controlled diabetes symptoms
  7. Symptoms of excess cortisol hormone such as Cushing’s syndrome
  8. Symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome (menstrual problems, hair loss, depression, skin tags, facial hair in women )
  9. Symptoms of severe protein loss in urine, also called nephrotic syndrome (severe body swelling, bloating, puffy eyes)
  10. Fatty liver

Extremely high triglycerides symptoms (high triglycerides over 1000)

Triglyceride levels higher than 1000mg/dl are considered extremely high triglyceride levels. Extremely high triglycerides symptoms include all the symptoms associated with very high triglycerides. In addition, extremely high triglycerides can cause pancreatitis.

Extremely high triglycerides symptoms from pancreatitis:

  1. Recurrent pancreatitis pain (Band-like pain in the mid abdomen that can be extremely painful after eating)
  2. Fever
  3. Recurrent nausea and vomiting
  4. Milky white appearance of blood

Extremely high triglycerides can actually change the color and appearance of the blood in your veins. For example, triglyceride levels of 2000mg/dl mean that you have 2 grams of triglycerides in 100ml of blood. When you convert it to regular US customary units of measurement, it comes to about a teaspoonful of triglycerides in a cup of blood. You can imagine melting a teaspoonful of butter and pouring it into a cup of hot water. That is enough butter to change the color and consistency of the water.

People with extremely high triglycerides levels have enough fat in their blood to make it look milky white.

Can high triglycerides cause stomach pain?

High triglycerides by itself does not cause stomach pain but high triglycerides over 1000 greatly increases your risks of pancreatitis. If you have extremely high triglycerides and you have stomach pain, you need to think about acute pancreatitis and seek medical help right away.

High triglycerides causes: what increases triglycerides?

Here are some of the common high triglycerides causes:

  1. Genetics: Family history of high triglycerides
  2. Uncontrolled Diabetes
  3. Low thyroid hormone
  4. Certain medications
  5. Drinking too much alcohol
  6. Eating too much sugar and other proceeded food with carbohydrates
  7. Sedentary lifestyle and obesity

Among the high triglycerides causes listed above, the only non-modifiable cause is genetics. You can’t change your genetic composition but you can modify all other high triglycerides causes. If your diabetes is uncontrolled, you need to lower your blood sugars to prevent high triglycerides. You need to get your thyroid hormone tested and take thyroid medications if you have low thyroid hormones.You need to have all your medications reviewed by your doctor or a pharmacist to make sure they are not causing your high triglycerides. You need to lower your alcohol consumption and eat less sugar and carbohydrates. You also need to modify your lifestyle, lose weight and exercise regularly.

What causes high triglycerides but normal cholesterol?

Although both triglycerides and cholesterol are usually checked at the same time and reported in the same panel of blood tests, they are regulated differently in your body. High cholesterol doesn’t necessarily cause high triglycerides and similarly high triglycerides does not necessary cause high cholesterol. Although high cholesterol and high triglycerides share similar causes, certain things affect triglycerides more than they affect cholesterol. That is why it is not uncommon to see high triglycerides but normal cholesterol.

The most common cause of high triglycerides nut normal cholesterol is heavy alcohol use. Alcohol affects triglycerides level significantly but it does not seem to worsen your cholesterol profile that much. In fact, moderate alcohol consumption seems to have some beneficial effects on your cholesterol profile. Alcohol actually increases your HDL which is the good cholesterol. If you drink heavily and have high triglycerides but normal cholesterol, it may have been caused by your alcohol consumption.

Similarly, obesity and sedentary lifestyle have much greater effects on your triglycerides than your cholesterol.

High triglycerides treatment

How to lower triglycerides without medicine? How to reduce triglycerides naturally?

Unlike people with high LDL cholesterol, most people with high triglycerides can lower triglycerides without medicine. There are some specific situations that require treatment of high triglycerides with medicine. In all other cases, lifestyle changes may be enough to lower triglycerides without medicine.

Here are the 4 important ways to lower triglycerides without medicine:

  1. Lose weight: Losing weight is one of the most effective ways to lower triglycerides without medicine
  2. Exercise: Exercise directly lowers triglycerides. Even moderate exercise and increase in physical activity can be beneficial. In addition to lowering triglycerides, physical activity also directly reduces your risk of heart attacks
  3. Reduce alcohol intake
  4. Start triglycerides diet

Triglycerides and alcohol

Alcohol directly raises your blood triglyceride levels. Even after a small drink of alcohol, your triglyceride levels quickly go higher. However, this effect is reversible and short lived if you only drink small amount of alcohol occasionally. If you drink alcohol heavily on a regular basis, your triglyceride levels remain persistently elevated. The more alcohol you drink, the higher your fasting blood triglyceride levels will be. If you want to lower your triglycerides without medicine, you need to cut down on your drinking.

High triglycerides diet

The food you eat directly influences your triglyceride levels. Eating foods high in simple carbohydrates( the kind of carbohydrate present in processed food such as corn syrup, candy, cakes, cookies) and sugary drinks are the main causes of high triglycerides in most adults in the United States.

Most people think that eating triglycerides(fats) is the main reason for high triglycerides. That is a myth. It’s not fat that raises fat levels in your blood, it’s sugar. In fact, healthy diet with plenty of good natural fat is the best kind of food to eat to lower triglycerides.

High triglycerides foods to avoid (in alphabetical order)

  1. Butterscotch
  2. Boxed Juices
  3. Caramel corn
  4. Chocolate brownie
  5. French fries
  6. Frosted Doughnuts
  7. Frosted flakes
  8. Frosting
  9. Funnel cakes
  10. Jelly bean
  11. Kitkat
  12. Marshmallows
  13. Oreos
  14. Potato chips
  15. Rice Krispies
  16. Skittles
  17. Snickers
  18. Sugar cookies
  19. Sugary Cupcakes
  20. Sugary Danish
  21. Sugary soft drinks
  22. Sweet cappuccino
  23. Sweet iced tea
  24. Sweet low fat yogurt
  25. Sweet Muffins
  26. Twinkies

Foods to eat to lower triglycerides, list of foods that lower triglycerides

High fat diet ,in which people replaced most of the calories from sugar with fat ,actually resulted in significant lowering of triglyceride levels. In fact, all types of fat (even the unhealthy saturated fat) lowered triglycerides when fat was used to replace sugar from the diet. However, unhealthy fat may raise LDL cholesterol levels. Therefore, the best triglycerides diet is a diet rich in natural healthy fats. A diet rich in healthy unsaturated natural fats is a good diet for high cholesterol & triglycerides.

A sample triglycerides diet food list would be fatty fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, unsaturated vegetable oils and similar healthy fats.

Here is a list of foods that lower triglycerides in alphabetical order:

  1. Almonds
  2. Almond butter
  3. Avocado
  4. Brazil nuts
  5. Cashew
  6. Cashew butter
  7. Chia seeds
  8. Flaxseed
  9. Grape-seed oil
  10. Greek Yogurt
  11. Hazelnuts
  12. Hemp oil
  13. Mackerel
  14. Olives
  15. Olive oil
  16. Pistachios
  17. Pumpkin seeds
  18. Sardines
  19. Salmon
  20. Sesame
  21. Sunflower seeds
  22. Tofu
  23. Tuna
  24. Trout
  25. Walnuts

How to lower triglycerides quickly without medicine?

The best way to quickly reduce triglyceride levels is to combine all the above mentioned lifestyle changes. These lifestyle changes enhance each other and the combined effect can be very significant. Reducing alcohol helps lower calorie intake and helps with weight loss. Healthy high fat low sugar diet makes you feel good and you are more likely to exercise. The combined effect of exercise, less alcohol and good food leads to significant weight loss. When you combine weight loss with healthy food, good exercise and less alcohol, you will quickly achieve your goal of reducing triglycerides.

Triglycerides over 500 treatment

Although many people with triglycerides can be treated without medications, people with triglycerides over 500 may need medications. Unless you have high triglycerides over 1000mg/dl, statins are the preferred medications for high triglycerides. Statins are the main medications found to beneficials for people with high levels of bad cholesterol. Statins primarily lower bad cholesterol but also have some triglyceride lowering effects. Despite their limited efficacy in lowering triglycerides, they are still the number one class of medications recommended for high triglycerides because they decrease your risks of heart attacks and strokes.

Treatment of high triglycerides over 1000mg/dl requires individualized careful evaluation by your doctor to find out the reason for such high cholesterol.


Anemia symptoms and causes

Anemia definition

Anemia literally means lack of blood. In medical terms, anemia specifically means lack of oxygen carrying red component of your blood. The actual substance that carries oxygen in your blood is hemoglobin. This hemoglobin is contained inside the red blood cells. Therefore, anemia means a lack of hemoglobin or lack of red blood cells.

Anemia symptoms

Are you looking pale and feeling tired? If yes, you need to think about anemia symptoms.

There are many signs of anemia in adults. Lack of hemoglobin affects many different organ systems in your body. We will look at anemia symptoms based on the organ affected by anemia.

Anemia symptoms that affect your whole body

Some anemia symptoms affect your whole body. When you have insufficient hemoglobin in your blood, you have less oxygen circulating in your blood. Due to insufficient oxygen, your whole body suffers.

Here are some of the anemia symptoms that affect your whole body

  1. Feeling tired all the time: Anemia makes you feel tired all the time. You may feel like you have no energy at all. You may be asking yourself, “Why am so tired all the time?”
  2. Extreme fatigue: As your anemia worsens, your symptoms progress from feeling tired all the time to extreme fatigue. You struggle with your daily routine. You get exhausted after minimal activity.
  3. Malaise: As anemia symptoms worsen, you not only have fatigue but also start to have malaise. You do not feel well. You are uncomfortable and restless. Your whole body struggles to find a sense of well being.
  4. Dizziness when standing up: Dizziness and lightheadedness when standing up results from a shift in your blood circulation when you stand up. Even under normal condition, more blood flows to your legs when you go from sitting position to standing. This leads to less blood being available to your brain. When you have anemia, your blood is already carrying less oxygen than normal. When you divert some of this anemic blood away from your brain, your brain does not get enough oxygen and you feel lightheaded and dizzy.
  5. Muscle weakness: In addition to feeling tired, fatigued and having low energy, anemia may actually make you feel like you have muscle weakness. This muscle weakness associated with anemia is a form of generalized muscle weakness. It means that all your muscles are weak, not just a group of specific muscles.

Anemia symptoms that affect your heart

  1. Heart palpitations: Heart palpitations symptoms are very common with anemia. People with anemia do not have enough oxygen circulating in their bodies. The heart tries to compensate for the lack of oxygen by pumping more blood. The heart beats faster and harder. People with anemia feel their hearts pounding in their chests. In some people, heart palpitations symptoms may sometimes be the only symptoms of being anemic.
  2. Chest pain: Chest pain from anemia does not usually happen in people with normal healthy hearts. However people with underlying coronary artery disease may have chest pain due to anemia. In those people, the lack of oxygen related to anemia acts as a “stress test” to unmask the symptoms of coronary artery narrowing.
  3. Shortness of breath with activity: People with anemia my feel like they are out of breath with little exertion.
  4. Anemia heart murmur: Heart mummer is one of the important signs of anemia that doctors can discover when examining people with anemia. Heart murmur in anemia may be present even without any structural abnormality of the heart. This type of heart murmur is sometimes called a functional heart mummer to distinguish it from other types of heart murmur that indicate leaky heart valves or other structural problems with one or more of the heart valves.
  5. Syncope and collapse (Fainting): People with anemia may experience fainting or passing out as the anemia worsens.

Anemia symptoms that affect your brain and the nervous system:

  1. Mental slowing and confusion: People with anemia may have some cognitive dysfunction related to low levels of oxygen in their brains. Mental slowing and confusion from anemia is usually the result of untreated anemia for a long time.
  2. Irritability: People with untreated anemia may become very irritable over time as lack of enough oxygen affects their brain function.
  3. Depression and mood swings: It is important to check for anemia in anyone being evaluated for depression and other mood disorders because people with anemia may develop these mental abnormalities from brain dysfunction related to lack of oxygen.
  4. Memory loss: In addition to general mental slowing and confusion, one specific type of anemia can cause disproportionate amount of memory loss. Memory loss from anemia is especially prominent in vitamin B12 deficiency anemia.

Signs of anemia in fingernails

  1. Spoon shaped nails: People with anemia may develop spoon shaped nails. Spoon shaped nails (medically known as Koilonychia) is especially prominent in people with long standing iron deficiency anemia.
  2. Brittle nails: In addition to spoon shaped nails, brittle nails are also important signs of possible iron deficiency anemia.

Signs of anemia in your skin

  1. Skin pallor: Pale skin is an important sign of anemia. There are two main reasons why people with anemia develop pale skin. First, lack of the red pigment hemoglobin makes the skin appear pale. Second, their bodies try to adapt to the lack of oxygen by decreasing the supply of blood to the skin. The blood vessels in the skin of people with anemia constrict to divert blood away from the skin. This allows other vital organs get more oxygen. Due to the decreased blood supply, the skin of people with anemia appears paler than they would from just the lack of hemoglobin.
  2. Pallor in dark skin: In people with darker skins, it is difficult to see pallor because of the high levels of skin pigment. However, normal dark skin has more of a warm tone to it. Anemic dark skin has a colder tone. Dark skin almost appears ashen when anemic.
  3. Jaundice: Jaundice or yellow discoloration of the skin happens in people with anemia of a very specific type. It is called hemolytic anemia or anemia related to the destruction of red blood cells.

Signs of anemia in your hair

picture iron deficiency hair loss

Hair loss and thinning of hair: Iron deficiency anemia is an important cause of hair loss and thinning of hair. In fact, iron deficiency even without anemia has been found to be an important cause of thinning hair in women.

Signs of anemia in the eyes: how to tell if you are anemic by your eyes?

picture anemia symptoms eyes: anemia eyelids images

anemia eyes vs normal eyes


It is possible to tell if you are anemic by examining your eyes in a certain way. You need to pull your lower eyelid down with your finger. Then you need to look closely at the inner everted part of your lower eyelid. You can then take a selfie or ask your partner to take a picture of your eye. As you can see in the picture, normal lower eyelid when everted looks vibrant red in color. If it looks pale like the one on the right side of the picture, then you can almost certainly tell that you are anemic.

Anemia diagnosis: How to test for anemia?

It is easy to make the diagnosis of anemia. All you need to do is check your hemoglobin. Anemia can be diagnosed with routine blood test. You do not need any specialized test to diagnose anemia. Hemoglobin level is included in a simple blood test called CBC or complete blood count. A hemoglobin level of less than 13 grams per deciliter is generally considered diagnostic for anemia in men whereas a hemoglobin level of less than 12 grams per deciliter is generally considered diagnostic for anemia in women.

Although it is easy to establish the diagnosis of anemia with a simple blood test, it may take specialized tests and careful evaluation by specialists to find out the exact type and cause of anemia in any individual patient. If you are diagnosed to have anemia, you need to ask your doctor about what type of anemia you have. You also need to ask what might have caused your anemia because the treatment depends on the exact type, severity and cause of anemia.

Causes of anemia

There are many causes of anemia. There are several different types of anemia based on those causes of anemia.

Iron deficiency anemia Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia. The severity of iron deficiency anemia symptoms depends on how fast the anemia developed. There are many different causes of iron deficiency. We will look into two of these important iron deficiency causes.

Iron deficiency causes

Iron deficiency caused by bleeding

Slow bleeding over a long period of time may cause iron deficiency. Rapid bleeding may also cause iron deficiency. Iron deficiency anemia caused by bleeding is also called hemorrhagic anemia, which literally means anemia from bleeding. When people have excessive blood loss, they lose significant amount of iron that is present in the hemoglobin. This depletes the storage of iron in those people.

Iron deficiency anemia symptoms in women may be related to heavy menstrual bleeding. Anemia due to iron deficiency in men may be related to slow bleeding from their colon or other parts of the gut. Internal bleeding anemia, nose bleeds anemia, bleeding ulcers anemia and heavy menstrual bleeding anemia eventually all lead to depletion of iron store.

Iron deficiency symptoms in men require more extensive evaluation than women because men do not have any natural causes of routine blood loss.

Iron deficiency caused by nutritional problems

Iron deficiency caused by lack of iron rich foods is more common in developing countries than in the United States. However, it can still happen here in people who are on a restrictive diet. People on vegan or vegetarian diet may develop iron deficiency if they do not routinely include iron rich foods foods in their meals. Nutritional iron deficiency anemia develops slowly over a long period of time.

Iron deficiency test

Here are the 3 most common and helpful iron deficiency tests:

  1. Iron level: This iron deficiency test measures the actual amount of iron in the blood. The normal iron level for males is 55 to 160 micrograms per deciliter and that for females is 40 to 155 micrograms per deciliter.
  2. Total Iron-binding capacity: This iron deficiency test measures the capacity of the protein that carries iron in the blood. With iron deficiency this binding capacity goes up as a compensatory mechanism.
  3. Ferritin: This iron deficiency test indirectly measures your body’s iron storage. Low ferritin usually means that your iron storage is depleted.

Cancer related anemia

Cancer patients frequently develop anemia. Cancer can cause anemia in many different ways. People may develop severe nutritional deficiencies as a result of the cancer. Anemia in cancer patient may be related to this nutritional problem. Cancer can also cause bleeding and that can lead to iron deficiency anemia. Cancer or its treatment can also damage the bone marrow and it can lead to anemia. Certain cancers also induce the destruction of red blood cells and cause severe anemia.

Anemia related to kidney failure

Kidney failure is another important cause of anemia. Kidney failure leads to anemia by impairment of an important step in the production of red blood cells.

Vitamin b12 deficiency anemia

Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia may be caused by insufficient vitamin B12 in your diet or it may also be caused by problems with vitamin B12 absorption in your stomach. In addition to the common anemia symptoms described in this article, people with severe vitamin B12 deficiency anemia may have symptoms of nerve damage.

Here are some of the potential nerve damage symptoms from vitamin B12 deficiency:

  1. Memory loss
  2. Depression
  3. Problems with balance
  4. Numbness and tingling of hand and feet

Folic acid anemia

Anemia caused by deficiency of folic acid in the diet is similar to vitamin B12 deficiency anemia. Unlike B12 deficiency, folate deficiency does not usually cause nerve damage symptoms.

Sickle cell disease

Sickle cell disease is an important cause of anemia in African Americans. Sickle cell anemia results from a defective gene that makes abnormal hemoglobin in people with sickle cell disease. Anemia in sickle cell disease is accompanied by other symptoms of sickle cell disease such as extremely painful sickle cell crisis.

Hemolytic anemia (the destruction of red blood cells)

Anemia may also be caused by the destruction of red blood cells. It happens in a number of different diseases and conditions. In addition to the common symptoms of anemia described in this article, hemolytic anemia may also cause jaundice or yellow discoloration of the skin.

Severe anemia symptoms: Can you die from anemia?

It is very unusual to die from chronic anemia but severe acute anemia resulting from internal bleeding can be fatal. People with severe anemia from loss of significant amount of blood in a short period of time can die from anemia if left untreated.

Anemia treatments: How to cure anemia?

It is important to know the exact type and severity of anemia before you seek treatment. Treatment for anemia should not be attempted at home without proper diagnosis. A list of iron rich foods will not help you unless you know the exact type of anemia you have. In fact, some types of anemia will get worse by taking iron supplements. If you have severe anemia from excessive bleeding, you may need hospitalization and blood transfusion. Anemia treatment diet will only work if your anemia is related to dietary deficiency. For example, if you are found to have problems with absorption of vitamin b12, your vitamin b12 deficiency anemia will not improve by simply starting anemia treatment diet.

If you are already diagnosed with anemia, I suggest you ask your doctor what type of anemia you have before seeking any treatment.

Iron deficiency treatment

Iron deficiency treatment should only be started after confirming the diagnosis. After confirming the diagnosis of iron deficiency, you need to make sure you do not have excessive blood loss leading to the iron deficiency. In women this could be related to heavy menstrual bleeding.

In both men and women, any unexplained iron deficiency anemia warrants cancer screening and screening for possible internal bleeding. After ruling out secondary causes of Iron deficiency, you may treat iron deficiency with iron supplements and iron deficiency treatment foods.

Anemia diet for people with nutritional iron deficiency should include a combination of heme iron foods and non-heme iron foods.

Heme iron (anemia treatment foods that are easily absorbed)

  1. Beef
  2. Chicken
  3. Clams
  4. Crabs
  5. Fish
  6. Lamb
  7. Liver
  8. Oysters
  9. Pork
  10. Sardines
  11. Scallops
  12. Shrimp
  13. Tuna
  14. Turkey

Non-heme iron (anemia treatment foods that are not easily absorbed, better to combine with heme iron food for better absorption)

  1. Asparagus
  2. Baked
  3. Collard
  4. Eggs
  5. Fortified bread
  6. Iron-fortified cereal
  7. kale
  8. Lentils
  9. Mushrooms
  10. Mustard
  11. Peas
  12. Potato
  13. Pumpkin seeds
  14. Soy burger
  15. Soy milk
  16. Spears
  17. Spinach
  18. Swiss chard
  19. Tofu
  20. Tomatoes
  21. Turnip

If you already have iron deficiency anemia, anemia diet by itself is usually not enough to make anemia go away. You will need iron supplements for that. Anemia diet is more important in anemia prevention than anemia treatment.

Anemia prognosis: Can anemia go away?

Anemia is a curable condition in most people. Anemia can go away completely with treatment in most people. I am saying “most people” because certain types of anemia are difficult to treat. Anemia due to cancer may be incurable if the underlying cancer can’t be cured. Similarly anemia due to certain bone marrow problems may not be curable. Even when anemia is not curable, it is still treatable with blood transfusion.

25 COPD signs and symptoms you need to know

What is COPD?

COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. It a disease that slowly damages your lungs.

COPD signs and symptoms

Many signs of COPD develop slowly over a long period of time.It is easy to miss COPD signs and symptoms because of this slow progression.

Here is the list of all 25 COPD signs and symptoms:

  1. Cough that won’t go away
  2. Copious amounts of sputum production while coughing
  3. Wheezing when breathing
  4. Out of breath with little exertion
  5. Feeling tired all the time
  6. Feel like lot of work to perform everyday activities that used to be easy
  7. Running out of breath while climbing stairs
  8. Increased work of breathing
  9. Heaviness in chest
  10. Muscle weakness and cramps
  11. Increased redness of the face
  12. Bluish discoloration of lips
  13. Bluish discoloration of finger nails
  14. Feel like not getting enough air, always hungry for more air
  15. Trouble sleeping
  16. Concentration problems, memory loss
  17. Puffy eyes and puffy face
  18. Swollen feet and ankles
  19. Dizziness or lightheadedness with activity
  20. Chest tightness
  21. Trouble speaking in full sentences
  22. Unintentional weight loss
  23. Decreased appetite
  24. Depression
  25. Gasping for air

COPD stages

COPD Stage 1 : Airflow in patients with COPD stage 1 is reduced to no less than 80% of the normal for that patient. Normal airflow for any individual patient is calculated based on the gender, age and height.

COPD Stage 2: Airflow in patients with COPD stage 2 is reduced to a value between 50% and 80% of the normal for the patient.

COPD Stage 3: Airflow in patients with COPD stage 3 is reduced to a value between 30% and 50% of the normal for the patient.

COPD Stage 4: Airflow in patients with COPD stage 4 is reduced to less than 30% of the normal for the patient.

How do you diagnose COPD?

To diagnose COPD, you need an accurate measurement of your airflow. Airflow can be accurately measured by an instrument called spirometer. You breathe in and out into this instrument according to the instructions provided by the expert technician. They will measure and evaluate the flow of air. After careful measurement and analysis, they will be able to diagnose COPD.

COPD causes: How do you get chronic obstructive pulmonary disease?

Smoking is one of the most common causes of COPD. Eight out of ten people who die from COPD are smokers. The association between COPD and smoking has been known and studied for more than 50 years. COPD from smoking has been the subject of many research studies. COPD is the most common lung disease from smoking.

How does smoking cause COPD ?

Here is an alarming smoking statistics: More than 480000 Americans die each year directly because of cigarette smoking. Here are some smoking facts: 27.6 million Americans smoke everyday and 8.9 million Americans smoke on some days. Lung disease from smoking presents a significant burden on our health care system. Medical care on smoking related health problems costs us $170 billion every year.

Scientists have performed numerous human and animal studies to figure out how smoking causes COPD. Here is a summary of how smoking causes COPD.

Cigarette smoke has been known to have many different harmful chemicals. Among them, a class of chemicals called oxidants have been found to be the main cause of COPD in smokers. These oxidants cause widespread inflammation inside the lungs of people who inhale cigarette smoke. This inflammation spreads to large and small airways. This inflammation slowly destroys the elastic tissue and lead to the formation of fibers and scars. This eventually leads to widespread lung damage that is characteristic of COPD from smoking.

What causes COPD besides smoking?

You may be surprised to know that 1 in 4 Americans diagnosed with COPD are non-smokers. There are many causes of COPD other than smoking. However, most researchers have only been able to establish a link or association between these factors and COPD. They have not been proven as definite causes of COPD.

Important causes of COPD other than smoking:

  1. Secondhand smoking: Inhaling secondhand cigarette smoke is an important cause of COPD in non-smokers. Many studies have looked into the effects of secondhand smoke. People who are exposed to secondhand cigarette smoke have been found to have significant decline in their lung function. Some studies have even suggested that exposure to secondhand smoke in childhood may increase the chances of getting COPD as an adult.
  2. Outdoor air pollution: Many studies have suggested a link between outdoor air pollutants and COPD. Although not proven, air pollution could be an important cause of COPD besides smoking.
  3. Coal dust: Exposure to coal dust has strong association with COPD.
  4. Welding Fumes: Exposure to welding fumes has been evaluated as a possible cause of COPD other than smoking.
  5. Biomass fuel smoke: Exposure to smoke from burning biomass fuel used in developing countries for cooking has been linked with COPD in those places. It is considered to be an important cause of COPD other than smoking.
  6. Alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency: This is a genetic defect that makes you more susceptible to the kind of lung damage that leads to COPD. People with this genetic defect may develop COPD even without smoking. Smokers with Alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency may develop severe COPD at an early age within just a few years of smoking.

COPD symptoms vs pneumonia symptoms

Both COPD and pneumonia may cause cough with sputum production and shortness of breath. However, pneumonia is an acute disease whereas COPD is a chronic heath issue. It means that symptoms of pneumonia are usually short lived and they get better with treatment. On the other hand, COPD symptoms last a long time and do not completely go away with treatment. Cough that won’t go away is the hallmark of COPD symptoms while rapid onset cough with fever and shortness of breath is the hallmark of pneumonia symptoms.

There is another important point you need to consider when comparing COPD symptoms to pneumonia symptoms. COPD symptoms and pneumonia symptoms can occur together. Patients with COPD symptoms are at increased risk of developing pneumonia. Pneumonia may be the reason for exacerbation of COPD symptoms in these patients. It may be very difficult to distinguish between the symptoms of COPD exacerbation and symptoms of pneumonia in patients with COPD. If a patient has fever on top of other usual COPD symptoms, it is more likely that he/she may have pneumonia. The only way to differentiate COPD symptoms and pneumonia symptoms is to get a chest x-ray or a CAT scan of the chest.

COPD symptoms vs symptoms of asthma

COPD and Asthma can both cause wheezing when breathing. COPD and asthma can both make you out of breath with little exertion. COPD symptoms and symptoms of asthma may feel similar in number of other ways. However it is important to distinguish between COPD symptoms and symptoms of asthma because the underlying lung problem is different.

For the most part, asthma symptoms are intermittent. Asthma symptoms mostly occur in episodes. Symptoms of asthma are usually triggered by something and they go away with treatment. People with asthma may have normal lung function if measured at a time when their asthma is not acting up. COPD symptoms are different from symptoms of asthma because COPD is a progressive disease. COPD symptoms may get better at times and get worse at times but, unlike symptoms of asthma, they do not go away completely. Most patients with COPD symptoms already have underlying irreversible lung damage.

COPD symptoms vs lung cancer symptoms

People with COPD symptoms are also at risk for developing lung cancer. Lung cancer symptoms in those patients may be hard to distinguish from symptoms of COPD. Lung cancer symptoms also include cough that won’t go away, wheezing when breathing, out of breath with little exertion, loss of appetite and unintentional weight loss.

Lung cancer is frequently discovered on chest ray done on patients with COPD symptoms when they go to ER for exacerbation (acute worsening) of their COPD symptoms. It is important to follow up any abnormal or suspicious looking chest ray with a CAT scan or some other imaging to make sure that the signs of lung cancer do not get missed in those patients with symptoms of COPD exacerbation.

COPD symptoms vs heart disease symptoms

Patients with COPD symptoms are also at risk for heart disease. Some COPD symptoms overlap with heart disease symptoms.Out of breath with little exertion, heaviness in chest, chest tightness, trouble sleeping, swollen feet and ankles ,and gasping for air are some of the heart disease symptoms that overlap with COPD symptoms.

To distinguish between COPD symptoms and heart disease symptoms, you need to look at the timeline of the symptoms. Heart disease symptoms usually start abruptly and worsen quickly. COPD symptoms have a slower onset than heart disease symptoms. However, it may not be possible to clearly exclude heart disease symptoms in someone with acute exacerbation of COPD. It is important to maintain a high degree of suspicion to look out for heart disease symptoms in patients with COPD who visit the ER for worsening of their COPD symptoms.

Shortness of breath: Everything you need to know

What is considered shortness of breath?

Generally speaking, shortness of breath means having a hard time breathing. However, symptoms of shortness of breath can vary significantly in speed and degree of breath shortness.

In milder forms of shortness of breath, you may only have shortness of breath when walking too fast.

Feeling out of breath after running too far and too fast is normal. However, if you have the same feeling with walking, it is considered abnormal shortness of breath.

Feeling out of breath with minimal activity is a severe shortness of breath symptom. Trouble taking a full breath or not being able to speak in full sentences are considered warning signs of impending respiratory failure.

What does shortness of breath feel like?

Shortness of breath is a horrifying experience. Here are some of the ways people feel when they have shortness of breath:

  1. Some people feel like they are not getting enough air. They actually feel a shortage of breath. It is a feeling similar to drowning.
  2. Other patients feel like they have trouble getting full breath. They feel like their lungs are not bringing enough air inside the chest. These patients are very distressed and they simply say, “ I’m having trouble breathing.”
  3. Some people feel like their breathing is swallow and fast. They are unable to take slow deep breaths.
  4. Some people with shortness of breath feel like gasping for air. Without doing anything, they feel like they have just ran a mile.
  5. Some people feel like they have trouble drawing air in and out of their lungs. They feel like their air pipes have narrowed and they have to work extremely hard to suck each breath in.

What to do for shortness of breath?

Symptoms of dyspnea (medical term for shortness of breath) should never be ignored. In most cases, shortness of breath treatment requires an ER visit. If you are by yourself and you feel like you have severe shortness of breath, you need to call 911 right away. There are no home remedies for shortness of breath in such situations.

Causes for shortness of breath

What can cause shortness of breath depends on the particular situation. Your age and your medical history will dictate the most likely cause of your shortness of breath.

Here we will look at different types of shortness of breath symptoms and list the causes.

Sudden shortness of breath without chest pain

Sudden onset shortness of breath without chest pain is a worrisome sign. If you were breathing normally and you suddenly feel a significant shortage of breath, it could represent a catastrophic event inside your body. Here are some of the important causes of sudden shortness of breath without chest pain:

  1. Silent heart attacks: You may have a heart attack without any chest pain. Sudden onset shortness of breath without chest pain is a very worrisome symptom of silent heart attack. If you want to learn all symptoms of silent heart attack, you can click on this link to the detailed article about silent heart attacks.
  2. Blood clot in lungs: Symptoms of blood clot in lungs start very abruptly. Sudden onset shortness of breath with or without chest pain is a very common sign of blood clot in lungs. If you want read detailed article on blood clot in lungs, you can click on this link.

Causes of shortness of breath and fatigue with slowly worsening symptoms

When symptom of shortness of breath builds slowly over time, you may not feel anything for a while. Slowly, you may feel like you are always tired. Shortness of breath, no energy and fatigue may set in so slowly that you may not seek help for a long time. You may even blame your symptoms on aging or working too hard. Eventually you may start asking, “what causes shortness of breath when walking?” You may feel like your breathing is fine at rest but you begin to huff and puff when you walk a little faster than your usual.

Here are some causes of shortness of breath and fatigue with slowly worsening symptoms:

  1. Anemia: When you have anemia, the oxygen carrying capacity of your blood goes down. In a slowly developing anemia, your body gets adjusted to the low oxygen level and you may only have symptoms of low energy for a long time.
  2. Obesity: As you start putting on more weight, your body starts to get tired and overworked. Eventually, your belly starts pushing back on your lungs and you can’t breath properly. Eventually you start to have shortness of breath with activity.
  3. Heart failure: Fatigue and low energy are early symptoms of heart failure. As your lungs slowly start to fill up with excess fluid, you develop shortness of breath and feel like you have no energy at all.

Shortness of breath with little exertion (Severe shortness of breath)

If you are out of breath with little exertion, you need to think about serious problems in your heart or your lungs. Feeling out of breath is a sign of trouble. If you are out of breath just walking a few steps, you need to see your doctor right away. When you are having a hard time breathing with your normal everyday activity, you should not wait to get medical help. You may already have a low oxygen level in your blood.

Here are some of the important causes of shortness of breath with little exertion:

  1. Advanced COPD: When the lung damage from your COPD gets to a certain level, it interferes with gas exchange inside your lungs and you become short winded with minimal activity. You may even start to have shortness of breath while resting. You need urgent medical evaluation and may possibly need oxygen at home.
  2. Severe heart failure: When your heart muscles are too weak to pump your blood effectively, you have significant fluid accumulation in your lungs all the time. It makes you short of breath with little exertion.
  3. Lung fibrosis: Many different kinds of disease can damage the connective tissue inside your lungs and lead to scar formation. These fiber like scar will damage your lungs and interfere with oxygen exchange.
  4. Carbon-monoxide poisoning: It damages the oxygen delivery system in your blood cells and causes severe shortness of breath.
  5. Severe pneumonia: It causes widespread inflammation inside your lungs. You may require intubation because of severe shortness of breath and low oxygen.
  6. Pulmonary hypertension: You have very high blood pressure inside your lungs. It interferes with the normal blood flow inside your lungs and makes you short of breath with little exertion.

Trouble getting full breath

Trouble getting full breath can happen in two types of lung problems. First you have have something restricting your lungs from expanding. Second, you may have shortness of breath due to airway obstruction.

Here are some causes of shortness of breath due to trouble getting full breath:

  1. Rib fracture: When you have rib fracture, it hurts to take a deep breath. You have trouble getting full breath because of the pain.
  2. Asthma: When you have an asthma attack, your airways narrows and you have to work extra hard to draw air inside your lungs.
  3. Myasthenia Gravis: It is a disease that causes widespread muscle weakness. Due to the weakness of your muscles involved in breathing, you may have trouble getting full breath.

Mini heart attack symptoms

In this article, I will explain in detail what mini heart attacks mean and I will help you understand the difference between mini heart attack, pre-heart attack, major heart attack and silent heart attack.

Mini heart attack symptoms ( also known as mild heart attack symptoms
) vs Major heart attack symptoms

First, I want to make it clear that you can’t easily distinguish between major heart attack symptoms and mini heart attack symptoms. A typical heart attack chest pain (a crushing pressure like pain in the middle of the chest with radiation to left arm) is more likely to be a major heart attack. However, not all major heart attacks happen with typical chest pain. In fact I have listed 23 symptoms besides typical chest pain that could represent a heart attack. This is true for both mini heart attacks and major heart attack symptoms. I have written a very detailed article on heart attack symptoms in general. You can click the link for reference. I am listing the same 23 symptoms here because they are also the symptoms of a mini heart attack.

In summary, typical heart attack chest pain is more likely to be a major heart attack. However, these 23 symptoms can represent either a major heart attack or a mini heart attack.

Here are the 23 mild heart attack symptoms:

  1. squeezing sensation in your chest
  2. heartburn that would not go away
  3. feel like indigestion
  4. severe nausea
  5. Jaw pain
  6. sudden palpitations
  7. dull chest pressure
  8. achy feeling in the chest
  9. feel like sore chest muscles
  10. pain in between the shoulder blades
  11. pain in your upper back
  12. pain in the left arm
  13. pain in the right arm
  14. fullness and tightening of throat
  15. numbness and heaviness of shoulder
  16. choking sensation
  17. feel like a lump inside the chest
  18. sudden shortness of breath
  19. feel like fire burning inside the chest
  20. stuttering chest discomfort
  21. impending sense of doom
  22. sudden incredible fatigue
  23. sudden profuse sweating

The only way to distinguish between a mini heart attack and a major heart attack when you have these symptoms is by getting tested after the fact. After you are diagnosed with a heart attack, your EKG, your blood-work and other specialized tests will evaluate the extent of damage to your heart muscles and find out if you had a mini heart attack or a major one. A major heart attack requires intervention as soon as possible. The sooner they are able to open up your arteries, the better outcome you will have. That is why it is extremely important to get to an ER as soon as you suspect a heart attack. Even when your symptoms suggest a mini heart attack, you can never know. You may be having a major heart attack despite not having the typical chest pain. If you have any of the 23 mild heart attack symptoms, you need to tell the ER nurse directly. Just say, “I think I had a heart attack.”

What does a mini heart attack feel like? How do you feel after a mild heart attack?

You may have any of the 23 mild heart attack symptoms but how you feel during the actual heart attack may differ from person to person. If you pay close attention to your symptoms, you will feel that your body goes into a stress mode during a heart attack. You may feel like you have less energy or you may feel a little dizzy or lightheaded. Some people feel anxious and worried and others feel like something isn’t right but can’t pinpoint the exact feeling.

What happens after a mild heart attack depends on the extent of injury to your heart muscles. After the acute heart attack is over, your symptoms depend on your heart muscle injury. If there is significant injury, you may feel like you are short of breath. You hay have palpitations or irregular heart rate.

If you get diagnosed and treated early for a mild heart attack, you may recover completely without any “minor heart attack after effects” and long term damage. That is why it is really important to recognize mild heart attack symptoms and go to the nearest emergency department right away.

Mini heart attack symptoms (mild heart attack symptoms
) vs pre heart attack symptoms

Pre heart attack symptoms are technically not actual heart attacks. You can view them as early warning signs of heart attack. “Heart attack” implies that there is already some permanent damage to the heart muscles. With pre heart attack symptoms, the damage is temporary. You can compare pre heart attack symptoms to transient ischemic attacks( TIAs, sometimes also called mini-stroke). TIA represents early warning signs of a stroke. Similarly, a pre heart attack represents early warning signs of a heart attack. The only difference is that pre heart attack symptoms affect your heart while mini-stroke symptoms affect your brain.

Pre heart attack causes:


mini heart attack symptoms

Causes of pre-heart attack and causes of mini-strokes are similar. Both pre-heart attack and mini-stroke are caused by temporary obstruction of blood flow to these organs: the heart in pre-heart attacks and the brain in mini-strokes. Pre heart attack symptoms are warning signs of a heart attack. Pre heart attack symptoms happen when you have narrowed but not completely blocked arteries in your heart. These arteries supply blood to your heart muscles. When part of your heart muscle doesn’t get enough blood, you have heart attack symptoms.

Mini heart attack symptoms: How long does a heart attack last?

The major difference between a pre heart attack and a mini heart attack is how long the heart attack symptoms last. Pre heart attack symptoms usually last for less than five minutes. Mini heart attack symptoms usually last for more than 10 minutes. With pre heart attack symptoms, blood flow is restored within that time frame. If it does not, it progresses into mini heart attack ,or sometimes into major heart attack. Sometimes a mini heart attack symptoms may last for hours.

In medical terms, pre heart attack is called Angina. There are 2 types of angina: stable angina and unstable angina. In pre heart attack symptoms from stable angina, there is a fixed narrowing of the blood vessel supplying blood to the heart muscles. Stable angina predictably happens with exertion and goes away promptly with rest. In pre heart attack symptoms from unstable angina, there is a new dynamic obstruction. It means that something new is happening inside one of your coronary arteries (arteries that supply blood to your heart muscles). It could be the rupture of a plaque, or it could be a small blood clot or something similar. Pre heart attack symptoms from unstable angina may be unpredictable. Symptoms may be provoked or unprovoked by activity. They may ease off and get worse. At the onset of unstable angina, the outcome is uncertain. If the cause of the obstruction passes away and the blood flow is restored, you will have pre heart attack symptoms. If the cause of the obstruction persists, you will go on to have a mini heart attack or even a major heart attack.

Jaw pain in heart attack

One of the most commonly misdiagnosed symptoms of a heart attack is jaw pain. Heart attack symptoms may be ignored if the person having the symptoms is perceived to be at a lower risk, especially when the presenting symptom is something as atypical as jaw pain. Heart attack symptoms in women over 40 and less than 50 may be dismissed more than others because they are perceived as low risk, even by many doctors. However the actual incidence of heart attack in women that age is only slightly lower than that of men. When a woman that age registers her chief complaint as “lower jaw pain right side”, they may dismiss that as a possible dental problem. You need describe your jaw pain in as much detail as you can if you don’t want them to dismiss it.

  1. Was your jaw pain unprovoked?
  2. Did your Jaw pain radiate to your arm or your chest?
  3. Did you jaw pain start suddenly out of nowhere?
  4. Was your jaw pain brought on by running or climbing stairs?
  5. Did you have jaw pain with your prior heart attack?
  6. When you answer those questions in detail, you may raise some red flags that will make them think about a possible heart attack.

Jaw pain that is predictably worse with running or walking and better with rest could be stable angina type of pre heart attack symptom. Jaw pain that is unpredictable and unprovoked may be a sign of unstable angina or mini heart attack or even a major heart attack.

Mild heart attack hospital stay

Unlike a major heart attack (also called ST elevation MI or STEMI), you can’t diagnose a mild heart attack just based on your EKG. Your EKG may show some signs you’ve had a heart attack in the past but it may not have specific findings to definitely say whether you are having a mild heart attack at the present time. If your EKG shows previous heart attack, the suspicion for current heart attack goes higher.

Once your doctors suspect a minor heart attack, they will admit you to the hospital with close monitoring of your heart rate and your blood pressure. There are certain blood tests that detect signs of heart muscle damage. These tests are used as indicators to diagnose mild heart attacks. These indicators of heart attacks are checked every few hours during your hospital stay to monitor the progression of your heart injury.

Your blood pressure during heart attack is usually high as your body goes into a stress mode. However, chest pain with normal blood pressure does not exclude mini heart attack. There is no “usual heart attack blood pressure range”; heart attack blood pressure numbers fluctuate widely.

Similarly, you may have high or low pulse rate during heart attack. During your hospital stay for a mini heart attack, you will be hooked up to a heart monitor so that they can monitor your heart rate and rhythm continuously. Any abnormal heart rhythm may need urgent intervention. You will be started on medications to prevent the progression of the mini heart attack. You will eventually get a cardiac catheterization to evaluate and open your blocked artery.

Heart attack recovery timeline: How do you feel after a heart attack?

Duo to advances in interventional cardiology, rapid assessment and treatment of mini heart attack is possible. As a result, many patients with mini heart attacks have excellent outcome. However, it does take some time for the patients to feel normal.

Right after a mini heart attack treatment, patients may feel weak and tired. They may feel like they have less energy than they used to. Some patients may feel short of breath and winded with activity. That is why it is important to start rehab as soon as patients can tolerate.

Ideally, recovery plan is started at the time of the mild heart attack hospital stay. Initially, the recovery efforts are focused on education. Understanding the type and extent of heart damage, knowing the medications that need to be taken long term, and learning to modify lifestyle to prevent another heart attack are very important things to discuss right after a mini heart attack.

After discharge, it may take 2 to 4 weeks for you to feel completely back to normal after a mini heart attack. You may feel depressed, fearful, angry, anxious and frustrated after a mini heart attack. If these feelings interfere with your recovery process, you need to call your doctor. Otherwise, you just need to work on things you can do to recover from this heart attack and prevent another heart attack in the future.

After the first few weeks, it is important to start a formal cardiac rehab and exercise program to maintain progress and recovery.

Silent heart attack

Silent heart attack implies that you had a heart attack without even noticing the symptoms. Symptoms of a silent heart attack are not always completely silent. Sometimes, silent heart attack happens because you ignore one or more of the symptoms in the list of 23 symptoms of heart attack.

Silent heart attack prognosis is usually similar to the prognosis of mini heart attack. However, sometimes major heart attack may also present as silent heart attack. Diabetes increases the risks of having a silent heart attack.

Silent heart attack treatment is the same as mini heart attack treatment unless you have a major heart attack presenting as a silent heart attack. I have written a detailed article on silent heart attack. If you want more information, you can click on that link.


Blood clot in lung

Blood clot in lung symptoms

Blood clot in lung symptoms can vary significantly from patient to patient. It is important to think about the possibility of pulmonary embolism (medical name for blood clot in lung) if you have any of the symptoms listed below.

Here is a complete list of blood clot in lung symptoms and signs:

  1. Sudden onset chest pain
  2. Sudden onset sharp back pain going across to chest
  3. Unprovoked shoulder pain
  4. Sudden neck pain
  5. Any breathing pain
  6. Coughing up blood
  7. Sudden loss of energy
  8. Feeling very tired
  9. Feel like fainting all of a sudden
  10. Lightheaded when sitting up
  11. Racing heart
  12. Low blood pressure
  13. Slight fever
  14. Actual fainting
  15. Sudden onset shortness of breath
  16. Running out of breath with activity
  17. Breathing very fast
  18. Falling down
  19. Sudden death

Explanation of specific blood clot in lung symptoms


Blood clot in lung pulmonary artery

The blue blood vessel named pulmonary artery is the site of blood clot in lung. As you can see, this blood vessel drains all blood from both lungs into your heart

Chest pain after pulmonary embolism is usually sharp, but any type of chest pain can be a warning symptom of pulmonary embolism if it happens all of a sudden. When you look at the list of pulmonary embolism symptoms and sign, you see that most of the symptoms happen suddenly. This a very important. Blood clot in lung symptoms start very abrupt. When a clot blocks the flow of blood inside a blood vessel in your lung, you feel that symptom right away. When you have any of the symptoms in the list that happens very quickly, you need to think about the possibility of a pulmonary embolism.

Among blood clot in lung symptoms, back pain can be very deceiving. Back pain is very common and may be easily overlooked. However, if your back pain starts suddenly and gets worse with breathing, you need to think about pulmonary embolism. Back pain in pulmonary embolism may radiate to your chest and may be associated with some degree of shortness of breath.

Pulmonary embolism shoulder pain can be equally deceiving. When you have sharp pain in your shoulder blades, you may not think about blood clot. When evaluating shoulder symptoms, you need to pay attention to how your symptoms stated. If you develop sudden sharp pain in your shoulder blades without any obvious reason, you need to look out for other signs of pulmonary embolism. Pain that gets worse with breathing is worrisome for pulmonary embolism shoulder pain. Pain that goes from your chest to your shoulder blade on one side, and pain that makes you feel weak and dizzy are other examples of possible pulmonary embolism shoulder pain.

Slight fever can be a symptom of blood clot in lung. Sometimes, a low grade fever may distract your doctor. Your doctor may think about a possible infection instead of thinking about blood clot in lung. It is helpful to remember that blood clot in lung, by itself, can cause slight fever without any infection.

Can you die from a blood clot in your lung?

blood clot in lung saddle embolus

A large blood clot in lung can block the flow of blood from the lungs to the heart.

You may have noticed that sudden death is listed as one of the blood clot in lung symptoms and signs. Yes, sudden death is a possible symptom of pulmonary embolism. In fact, Centre for Disease control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that sudden death could be the first symptom of pulmonary embolism in about one quarter (25%) of people who suffer from it. Pulmonary embolism death can happen very quickly and is thought be an important cause of sudden death. Blood clot in lung survival rate depends on the location and size of the clot. With blood clot in lungs, chance of survival goes down if the clot is in the major branch of your pulmonary artery (main blood vessel supplying blood to the lungs). Your pulmonary embolism survival rate goes down if your blood clot blocks the flow of blood from the your lungs to your heart.

Multiple blood clots in lungs

It is not uncommon to find multiple blood clots in lungs when being evaluated for possible pulmonary embolism. When you are diagnosed with multiple blood clot in lungs, it may sound more scary. However, multiple blood clots in lungs prognosis is not necessarily worse than that of a single large blood clot in lung. The effects of a blood clot in lung depend mostly on its location. A single large blood clot that completely blocks the flow of blood from both lungs to the heart is the most dangerous blood clot in lung and is called saddle pulmonary embolus. A saddle pulmonary embolus can kill you instantly unless your blood can somehow squeeze past the blockage and reach your heart. Multiple blood clots in lungs that are smaller in size do not block significant amount of blood flow and do not cause immediately life threatening complications.

Worried about blood clot in lungs?

If you have any of the symptoms of blood clot in lung, you need to visit the nearest emergency department right away. You need to tell the ER doctor about your symptoms and explain why you are worried about a blood clot in your lung. If the ER doctor finds your symptoms concerning for a pulmonary embolism, you will get a CT scan of your chest. The CT scan will tell you right away if you have pulmonary embolism. However, they may have to do some alternative testing if they are unable to do the CT scan due to allergy or other medical problems. In any case, you should not take blood clot in lung symptoms and signs lightly.

Pulmonary embolism treatments

Emergency treatment for pulmonary embolism mainly depends on the severity of the symptoms. Starting CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is the most important initial blood clot in lung treatment when you see someone collapsed on the floor with suspected or confirmed blood clot in lung. If you are able to revive a collapsed person, that person needs a clot busting medication if the diagnosis of blood clot in lung can be confirmed.

Among pulmonary embolism treatments, using clot busting medication is the treatment modality with the highest risks of adverse events. Clot busting medications can cause immediate life threatening hemorrhages. These medications are only used in certain patients who have a very high chance of dying from the blood clot in lung. Patients with blood clot in lung who have a very low blood pressure require clot busting medication to rescue them. Otherwise, their blood circulation may stop and they may collapse.

Surgery is one of the least used pulmonary embolism treatments but it may be needed in a very few specific patients with blood clot in lung. An example would be someone who had a recent brain surgery that collapsed from a blood clot in lung. Normally, clot busting medication would be used in such patient but you can’t use clot busting medication in someone who had recent brain surgery because of the very high risk of brain bleeding.

Long term treatment for blood clot in lung mainly consists of blood thinners. These blood thinners help prevent another clot and stop the blood clot in lung from getting larger.

Blood clot in lung prognosis

Pulmonary embolism prognosis depends on the effect of the clot on the blood circulation and the extent of lung damage after pulmonary embolism. In the short term, people who have complete blockage of blood flow may die instantly. Those who survive may develop high pressure in the pulmonary artery and may have shortness of breath with activity for a long time.

People with blood clot in lung who do not have significant obstruction in the flow of blood from lungs to the right heart do relatively well. That is why it is important to get an echocardiogram of the heart to look at the circulation and the pressure of the blood inside the pulmonary artery. If the pulmonary artery pressure is normal in an individual patient, that patient will likely have a better long term prognosis. However, there are no predictable and accurate indicators for blood clot in lung prognosis so far. More medical research is needed to accurately predict pulmonary embolism prognosis.

Life after pulmonary embolism

Life after pulmonary embolism can be difficult. Symptoms of shortness of breath may persist for a long time. You may feel dizzy or lightheaded when standing. Blood clots in lungs recovery time vary from person to person and depends on many factors including the extent of lung damage after pulmonary embolism. Currently, it is almost impossible to accurately predict blood clots in lungs recovery time in any individual patient. Some patients are able to return to work after pulmonary embolism in just a few weeks while others have significant shortness of breath for months. In some people it may take almost a year to return to normal activities. Pulmonary embolism pain comes and goes in many patients for weeks with unpredictable patterns.

Some people may need oxygen to prevent shortness of breath during recovery from pulmonary embolism. Pulmonary embolism recovery exercise may be appropriate for some patients with blood clot in lung. If you have enough lung capacity to exercise, you need to enroll in a medically supervised pulmonary embolism recovery exercise program.

As you can see, life after pulmonary embolism can be very unpredictable.


blood clot symptoms in leg

Blood clot symptoms in leg can be very non-specific. It is very important to think about the possibility of a blood clot when you have any new symptom in your leg. If you have risk factors for a blood clot, you need to be specially vigilant.

Here are some common blood clot symptoms in leg:

  1. Swelling of a leg
  2. Pain in a leg
  3. Redness of a leg
  4. Increased warmth of a leg
  5. Prominent appearance of the veins in a leg


These common blood clot symptoms in leg are very non-specific and non-sensitive. It means that you may have these symptoms without a blood clot in your leg. You may also have blood clot in leg without any of the common blood clot symptoms.You need to be very careful not to dismiss your symptoms even when your symptoms do not match with any of the above mentioned symptoms.

Blood clot in legs can travel upwards and result in blood clot in lungs. Sometimes smaller fragments of the blood clot in legs can cause multiple blood clots in lungs. You need to look out for blood clot symptoms in lungs anytime you have warning sings of blood clot in leg.

Signs of blood clot in leg: Warning signs and high risk situations

  1. You have symptoms in one leg only.
  2. You have very abrupt onset of symptoms in a leg.
  3. You have onset of blood clot symptoms in leg after a prolonged period of rest.
  4. You have onset of blood clot symptoms in leg after a long car drive.
  5. You have onset of blood clot symptoms in leg after getting a diagnosis of cancer.
  6. Your one entire leg is swollen.
  7. You notice a significant difference in the size of your 2 legs.
  8. You have pitting edema of one leg only.
  9. If you press on your swollen leg, it forms an indentation that lasts for a while.
  10. It hurts to touch your leg along a particular line going up your calf and into your thigh.
  11. You have a strong family history of blood clots.
  12. You have had blood clot(s) in the past.

Blood clot symptoms in leg only affect one leg most of the times. Blood clot symptoms also start very abruptly. If you have any symptom in just one leg that started out of nowhere, you need to be very concerned about the possibility of a blood clot. You need to learn about some known risk factors that can increase the odds of having a blood clot. A long car drive, a long flight, recent surgery, immobility, family history of blood clots, having a diagnosis of cancer, and having a prior history of blood clot(s) are all associated with an increased risk of getting a blood clot in leg. If you have these risk factors, you need to take your symptoms seriously and seek medical care.

What does a blood clot in the leg feel like?

In addition to knowing the common blood clot symptoms in leg, you need to understand what it feels like to have blood clot in the leg. In my hospital practice, I have treated hundreds of patients with blood clots in their legs. As I speak to them, I try to find out what they feel like when they have blood clot symptoms in their legs. Most patients notice the sudden onset of their symptoms. They feel like the symptoms came out of nowhere.

One patient described that he was feeling fine just watching TV at home when he felt some uneasy sensation in his right leg. He had his feet up on the ottoman at that time with both feet resting on the top of the ottoman. He then crossed his leg and put his right leg on top of his left leg. He continued to watch TV but his right leg still did not feel right. After several minutes he got off the couch and walked around in his living room. He now had a gnawing tightness in his right calf. He sat on a chair and tried to massage his right leg. When he looked at it, he was concerned. It looked somewhat different. It was a little bigger that the other leg and it appeared a little red and shiny. When he tried to massage it, he felt a little tenderness. Not knowing what to do, he called his doctor’s office. The nurse who picked up the phone told him to go to the nearest hospital ER to get it checked out. They did a doppler ultrasound of his leg and found out he had a blood clot in his leg.

Symptoms of blood clot in leg calf

Posterior calf is the most common part of the leg where many people notice their blood clot symptoms. The deep veins of the legs run along the posterior part of the legs. They climb up the legs running deep in the calves. When you have a blood clot in these deep veins, you get symptoms of blood clot in leg calf. Usually, but not always, symptoms of blood clot in leg calf are less serious that the symptoms of blood clot in thigh and other upper region of deep leg veins.

Blood clot in thigh

The deep veins of the leg run up to the thigh from the back of the calf and continue upward. From there they turn a little forward and go inside the pelvic area. Blood clot in thigh can have more serious symptoms. They can cause swelling of the whole leg. Blood clot in thigh and other upper part of deep leg veins can cause more complications than blood clot limited to leg calf.

Blood clot symptoms in arm: What does a blood clot feel like in your arm?

Blood clot symptoms in arm is present in about 10% of people with deep venous thrombosis (DVT). Most common blood clot symptoms in arm includes heaviness, discomfort, pain, and swelling of the affected arm. Most people feel a sudden change in the affected arm. They notice that the affected arm feels very different from the unaffected arm. They may also feel some numbness and tingling in the arm with the blood clot.

What causes blood clots in legs?

There are three things that cause blood clots in legs:

  1. Slowing of the flow of blood in leg veins
  2. Increased coagulability of blood
  3. Damage of leg veins

These are the three important blood clot causes for not only blood clot in legs
but also blood clot in lungs and even blood clot in heart.

When you do not move for a long time, the flow of blood in your leg veins slow down. After a surgery, your body makes more clotting factors and the coagulability of your blood goes up. After an accident or a trauma, you may have damaged veins in your legs. This is why the risk of blood clot is higher after immobility, surgery and trauma.

How to identify a blood clot?

It is not possible to identify a blood clot by just looking at your leg. Even experienced doctors cannot identify a blood clot in the leg even after examining your leg in detail. You need a special testing to identify a blood clot in your leg. The test is called doppler ultrasound. Doppler ultrasound uses sound waves to measure the flow of blood in blood vessels. An ultrasound technician can use a doppler ultrasound to measure the flow of blood inside your leg veins. Doppler ultrasound is the most commonly used test to identify a blood clot in the leg.

Do blood clots dissolve? Do blood clots go away?

Our bodies have natural clot dissolving system that attempts to dissolve any blood clots and make them go away. However our bodies also have a system that promotes clotting of blood. What happens to a particular blood clot depends on which system is more active at the particular time and place. When you have increased coagulability of blood, it becomes difficult for your body to dissolve your blood clot naturally. Medications for blood clot treatment decrease the coagulability of blood and give our natural clot dissolving system significant advantage over clot forming system. That is why proper treatment with these medications will eventually make your blood clots go away.

How do you know if a blood clot is moving?

When you have blood clot in legs, you need to worry about the clot moving out of the legs and going up to the lungs. However, there are no reliable tests to know if a blood clot is moving. Although doppler ultrasound may sometimes reveal signs of a possibly mobile clot, they can’t reliably predict which clot will move to the lungs and which clot will not. That’s why it is important to look out for blood clot symptoms in lungs when you are diagnosed with blood clot in legs.

Blood clot treatment: How to treat a blood clot? How to get rid of a blood clot?

Blood thinners are the main tools used in blood clot treatment. Unlike clot busting medications, blood thinners do not actually dissolve the clot by themselves. Blood thinners help decrease the coagulability of blood by attacking the natural clot forming system in your body. When clot forming system is down, your natural clot dissolving system gets an advantage. With proper blood clot treatment, you can get rid of blood clot in legs.

Blood clot in leg treatment should be started as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed. The choice of medicine for blood clots in legs depends on individual preference and clinical situation. Usually, blood clot treatment is started in the emergency department with an injectable blood thinner. Unless there are signs of concomitant blood clot in lungs, most people with blood clot in legs are discharged home after a short observation in hospital or emergency department.

Blood clot in leg treatment at home after being discharged from the hospital mainly consists of taking the prescribed blood thinner pills. With the older blood thinner called Coumadin or Warfarin, you need frequent blood tests to adjust the dose. With newer blood thinners such as rivaroxaban(Xarelto) and dabigatran(Pradaxa), you won’t need the blood tests. However, you need to talk to your doctor before you decide which medicine for blood clots in legs would be the most appropriate one for your particular situation.

Blood clot in lung treatment is described in detail in this article that also talks about blood clot in lung prognosis and blood clot in lung survival rate. In summary medical treatment for blood clots in lungs is similar to treatment of blood clot in legs, except in complicated life threatening situations.

Blood clot in leg pain relief

Many patients with blood clot in legs have significant pain with it. Blood clot in leg pain relief should be an important part of blood clot in leg treatment. In addition to over-the-counter pain medications such as Tylenol, some patients may need prescription pain pills such as Ultram to help them with the pain associated with blood clot in legs. A small dose of muscle relaxants may help some patients while others may benefit from leg elevation and physical therapy.


Pneumonia symptoms based on patient age and health status

Pneumonia symptoms based on patient age and health status

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. However, symptoms of pneumonia may not be confined to your lungs. There are several online symptom checkers on major medical information websites that list several symptoms of pneumonia. However, symptoms of pneumonia depend more on the severity of pneumonia and the unique characteristics of the patient than just having a diagnosis of “pneumonia”. Here are a summary of how few different patients presented with pneumonia. Of note, in “Symptoms and Diagnosis” we do not list symptoms, we tell a story of the symptoms. List of symptoms do not help in making the right diagnosis without the proper context and the story of how the illness progressed.

Pneumonia symptoms in a 24 year old otherwise healthy female student:

Miss T is a 24 year old female college student who has just returned home to visit her parents for the summer. She had felt like she was “getting down with something” for the last 2-3 days. She initially thought she might have the flu. However, she was coughing more and more. She never had a “cold” this bad. She also started having high fevers with shaking chills. Her appetite went down. She felt very weak.

When her parents saw her, they were extremely worried. She looked very sick. She confessed that she had not had much food or drink in the last 2 days. Her mother immediately prepared some chicken soup for her to help her get over the cold. She tried a few spoonful of the soup but could not finish it. As her mother forced her to take a few more, she became very nauseated. She ran to the bathroom and vomited all the soup she had.

Her mother got worried and drove her to the nearest emergency department. There, she had a chest x-ray. It showed a haziness on the right lower side of her chest. Her blood tests were relatively normal except for a slightly low potassium. She was given a prescription for antibiotics and anti-nausea medications and was discharged home. She felt better in about 3 days and was back to normal within a week.

Pneumonia symptoms in a 72 year old female with a recent stroke:

Mrs Y had a stroke 4 weeks ago. She had complete paralysis of her left side. She was admitted to the hospital that time and had received clot busting medication for the stroke within an hour of her symptoms. She did have some partial recovery. At the end of the hospital stay, she had been able to partially move her left arm. She was also able to move her left leg a little bit but did not have enough strength to stand up. She was recovering at home after a week in rehab. She was still in a wheelchair but was able to push herself around the house. Her daughter had moved in with her to help. She still had some trouble swallowing food properly and they had recommended a specific diet of certain consistency to avoid choking.

She was feeling better and went to physical therapy at least 3 times a week. That particular day, it seemed like she was not doing well at the therapy session. She felt like she had no energy. She could not do things she had remastered in the last week. She was still able to push her wheelchair but it was very slow. She did not feel like eating. She also noticed she was breathing a little faster. She did have some cough but did not cough up anything. She also had a new headache. She never had headache with the actual stroke. Her therapist was worried and called her daughter.

They decided it would be best to take her back to the emergency department for a check-up. In the ER, they did a CT scan of her head as soon as they heard the story. The CT was unchanged since her stroke. Subsequently, they ordered some blood work and a chest x-ray. The blood work showed that her White blood cell count was 18K, normal being 4.5K to 10K. Her chest x-ray showed diffuse haziness in the lower parts of both her lungs. She was admitted to the hospital with a diagnosis of pneumonia and was started on IV fluids and IV antibiotics. Her oxygen level was low. She was placed on supplemental oxygen to help her breathe better. She remained in the hospital for 3 more days.

Pneumonia symptoms in a 82 year old female in a nursing home:

Mrs Z had history of multiple medical problems. She had underlying heart disease. Her kidneys were only functioning at about half the capacity. She also had a history of blood clot in her lungs and was taking blood thinners. The clot had originated in her left leg and apparently it got lodged in her lungs. She was overweight but not obese. She still have some shortness of breath with walking. She had that for a long time. It worsened at times and improved at times. However, she was mentally very sharp and focused. She liked her books and spend most of her time reading. She also enjoyed watching the news on television and was up-to-date on all recent events.

One morning, she appeared different. Her nurse was concerned. She seemed very withdrawn. That was not normal for her, she was a very chatty person. She asked what happened. “I am very tired today,” Mrs Z replied. The nurse reassured her and asked her what she would like for breakfast. Mrs Z said,“I don’t fell like eating today. I don’t even want to clean the garage. I thought I would do it today but maybe tomorrow.” The nurse was worried,”What garage?” “Well, my garage, I was thinking about sweeping the dust out. You know I live by myself, don’t have much help around the house.”

Now the nurse was really worried. It did not make sense. She called 911 and had her taken to the nearest emergency department for evaluation. She was diagnosed with pneumonia. She also had worsening of her kidney function and signs of sepsis. Her body was overwhelmed from the infection. She required five days in the hospital for treatment.

Pneumonia in a 68 year old male with advanced COPD:

Mr S is a 68 year old male who had smoked more than a pack a day for 40 years. He was diagnosed with COPD 4 years ago but had not been able to stop smoking. COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a lung disease that happens mostly in smokers. It caused his lungs to become stiff and his airways were inflamed and constricted. He had ongoing cough and trouble breathing. He was placed on 2 liters of oxygen all day to help his breathing.

That particular day, he felt like his shortness of breath was worse than usual. He was running out of breath just getting out of his bed. He increased the flow of his oxygen but still did not feel better. He also had a pain in the right side of his chest every time he coughed or took a deep breath. His wife looked at him and was very worried. His color did not not look right. She felt like he was about to collapse. She called 911 right away.

Paramedics came in and checked his vitals. His oxygen was very low at 75% even with the oxygen. He looked very short of breath and was breathing very heavy. They increased the flow of oxygen with a face-mask and it went up to 89%. They transported him to ER right away.

In the ER, his oxygen continued to drop despite the face mask. The ER doctor decided to put a tube down his throat to help him breathe. He was hooked up to a ventilator. They finally got a chest x-ray and some blood work. He had pneumonia with sepsis. His blood pressure started to go down and became very low. He was resuscitated with IV fluids and IV medications to push his blood pressure up. He was started on 3 different IV antibiotics and was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU).

Here, you read about 4 different patients with the same diagnosis of pneumonia but saw how their symptoms were completely different. They all had different levels of treatment and different prognosis.

This book “Symptoms and Diagnosis” has very detailed stories of patients affected with diseases of all organ systems. They teach you about diseases and their symptoms in a very easy manner. Each story links the symptoms to what happened inside your body. You will learn basic medical knowledge to make sense of what your body is trying to tell you when you get sick. You just have to read these stories and the analysis. It will truly empower you with knowledge that might one day help save a life.

Self Diagnosis

Self Diagnosis: What do my symptoms mean?

Can you really do self diagnosis?

Yes you can, as long as

  1. you ask the right question and
  2. obtain some basic medical knowledge.

These are the two basic things you absolutely need for self diagnosing.

The right question you need to ask yourself for self diagnosis is “What do my symptoms mean?”

When you ask, “What do my symptoms mean?”, you start by thinking about your symptoms, not the symptoms you found on a symptom checklist. If you want to do self diagnosis in a proper way, you have to go one step further. It is not enough to simply list your symptoms. Your symptoms tell a story about what is happening inside your organs. You have to get that story correct. The same exact symptom may point to a completely different diagnosis depending on what role that symptom plays in that story.

Many times people simply do a symptom search to self diagnose their symptoms. They look for a symptom checklist or a symptom checker and try to match a diagnosis that goes with those medical symptoms. That is the wrong way to find a diagnosis for your symptoms. Unless you think about what is happening inside your body to produce your medical symptoms, you will not get the right diagnosis from any symptom search.

First of all, you need to recall how exactly your symptoms started. If your symptoms started abruptly within a fraction of a second, they point to a certain organ system and certain kind of diagnoses. If your symptoms started slowly over a few days, they point to a different type of diagnoses. Getting the onset of your symptoms correctly will help you move in the right direction to get the correct self diagnosis.

Before you can answer, “What do my symptoms mean?”, you need to ask yourself, “What exactly were my symptoms?” It is easy to pick up a few names of medical symptoms from a symptom checklist but doing that may misrepresent your symptoms. Without looking at any symptom checklist, try to focus on what exactly you felt when you had those symptoms. Your symptoms are uniquely yours and pre-selected symptom checklist may not fit your symptoms. If you felt like something was squeezing inside your chest, simply note that instead of picking “chest pain” from the symptom checklist.

Once you clearly note what exactly you felt, get the other parts of the story correct. Your symptoms tell a unique story, a story of what actually happened inside your body. Pay attention to how your symptoms progress. Are your symptoms constant without any waxing or waning? Are your symptoms getting worse by the minute? Is there anything that makes your symptoms worse? Anything that makes them better? When you answer these questions correctly, you will get the whole story of what your body is trying to tell you. Getting your own story correct is the most important step of self diagnosis if you want to get it right.

Here is a summary of steps to answer, “What do my symptoms mean?”:

  1. How exactly did my symptoms start?
  2. What exactly did I feel with my symptoms?
  3. How did my symptoms progress?
  4. What made my symptoms better?
  5. What made my symptoms worse?
  6. What else happened when I had those symptoms?

Basic medical knowledge needed for self diagnosis

Once you get the story of your symptoms correct, you need to be able to understand them. To understand what your body is trying to tell you, you need some basic medical knowledge. Do not worry, you do not need to go to medical school to get this required knowledge for self diagnosis. Anyone can easily learn the basics of how your organs function. This book “Symptoms and Diagnosis” is designed to teach you basic medical knowledge that you can use to perform self diagnosis. It is very easy to understand. It is written in a simple non-technical language. You do not need to be in any medical field to enjoy “Symptoms and Diagnosis” and learn from it. It teaches you by example. You read interesting medical stories and learn about the basic mechanisms of your body organs along the way. After reading 20 medical stories, you will have just enough medical knowledge to interpret what your body is trying to tell you when you are sick.

After learning the basics of how your body works, you will be able to make sense of the story of your symptoms. You are the master of your body. You can understand the story of your symptoms better than anyone else can. When you put your symptoms together and relate that with your basic medical knowledge, self diagnosis will come to you naturally.

When you analyze your symptoms and do self diagnosis by connecting your story with your body organs, you will decrease the chance of getting a misdiagnosis from your doctor when you eventually seek help. When you tell the story of your illness in the way it relates to your body organs, your doctor will be compelled to follow the true diagnostic path.

To recap, yes you can definitely do self diagnosis as long as you follow the story of your symptoms properly. This type of self diagnosing is not just possible but is also very beneficial. On the contrary, when you do self diagnosis by doing a symptom search, it will mislead you. Self diagnosis by symptom search can derail your thought and may interfere your doctor’s diagnostic thinking. It can lead to misdiagnosis and complications.