Tag Archives: symptoms

Know The Signs of Encephalitis

Encephalitis is a medical term meaning inflammation of the brain. While some cases are mild and quickly resolved, it can be a very serious condition, especially in children. There are many causes of encephalitis, but the most common causes are viral infections. Let’s take a look at some of the other causes, symptoms to look out for, complications and treatment:

Symptoms of Encephalitis

Some cases of encephalitis are asymptomatic, but others may exhibit a variety of symptoms such as cold-like ones. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Severe headache
  • Confusion or mental fogginess
  • Seizures
  • Weakness
  • Aches and pains
  • Hallucinations
  • Vision, speech or auditory interruptions
  • Fainting
  • False smells (smelling foul or rotten scents that aren’t really there)

Small children or babies may exhibit these symptoms:

  • Bulging of the soft part of the skull in infants
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Inconsolable fussiness
  • Stiffness
  • Irritability
  • Problems feeding

Babies or children exhibiting any of these symptoms should receive urgent medical attention.

Causes of Encephalitis

  1. Childhood infections such as rubella or the mumps.
  2. Herpes simplex virus (genital herpes is actually the most common cause of encephalitis).
  3. Animal-spread viruses such as rabies.
  4. Arboviruses – these are viruses that are carried and spread by insects, most commonly, mosquitos or ticks.
  5. Having a growth – a cancerous or noncancerous tumor.
  6. Being immunocomprimosed – If you have a weakened immune system due to disease or medications you are at greater risk of picking up an infection.

Complications of Encephalitis

There may be temporary or long-term complications such as fatigue, memory, auditory, speech or thought problems or paralysis. It may also cause brain damage, a coma or even death in instances of severe brain inflammation. Untreated or severe encephalitis has even surprisingly been linked to dementia in children.

Encephalitis Prevention and Treatment

Treatment for encephalitis varies and depends on the severity and root cause. It often includes a combination of anti-inflammatories, antiviral and antibiotic medications. There is no way to prevent encephalitis completely, but the best precautionary measure you can take is to be safe about mosquitoes and bugs, and practice good hygiene and try to avoid sick people or contaminated areas.

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Could It Be ‘Walking Pneumonia’?

Walking pneumonia (also called atypical pneumonia) is a sub-type of pneumonia, a contagious condition marked by pus and inflammation that clog up the airways making it difficult to breathe. Pneumonia can be life-threatening (especially for the immunocompromised), but walking pneumonia is rarely serious and doesn’t usually require hospitalization. It may, however, require antibiotics or other medication to clear up.

What Causes Walking Pneumonia?

Walking pneumonia can be caused by a bacterial, fungal or viral lung infection or inhaled irritants, but is most often caused by the bacterium Mycoplasma pneumoniae. It is a contagious condition, often passed through a contaminated person’s sneezes or coughs in a crowded place like a school or hospital. Symptoms don’t usually start surfacing until many days after exposure (it can take up to a month).

What are the Symptoms of Walking Pneumonia?

Many people make the mistake of ignoring a cold that’s lingered on too long, when really, it may not be a cold at all. Walking pneumonia can mimic many symptoms of a cold. If it is left untreated or doesn’t clear on its own, however, it could potentially cause complications. Some of the common symptoms of walking pneumonia include:

  1. Sore throat
  2. Excess mucus or sputum
  3. Chest pain upon inhalation
  4. Labored breathing or wheezing
  5. A harsh cough that flares up and calms down again (but won’t seem to go away)
  6. Fatigue
  7. Aches and pains
  8. Fever or chills
  9. Weakness or faintness
  10. Headache
  11. Skin symptoms such as a rash
  12. Loss of appetite or unintentional weight loss

When to See the Doc?

Even though walking pneumonia is usually mild enough that a person can go about their daily business, if it starts hanging around too long you may need antibiotics (only if it is bacterial by nature) or other prescribed medicine to help clear it up. A doctor may also need to do some tests to check your lungs for any residual problems from the condition. So, if you’ve been experiencing the above symptoms or have a “cold” that has lasted longer than 10 days, it is time to get it checked out. Our board-certified physicians are standing by 24/7/365 to help with health inquiries like this, so feel free to check us out if in doubt!





7 Surprising Symptoms of Testicular Cancer

Approximately 8,850 American men will develop testicular cancer this year. Males of any age can develop testicular cancer, but it is most common among young men (the average age of diagnosis is 33). If it is caught in the earlier stages, it is highly treatable. Let’s take a look at 7 potential signs of testicular cancer:

  1. Gynecomastia is a condition whereby males develop excess breast tissue and/or swelling of the breasts. It can be harmless, or can be linked with such conditions as Klinefelter’s syndrome, obesity or in some cases a sign of testicular cancer.
  2. Lower back pain – In some cases, later stage testicular cancer may spread to the lymph glands behind the stomach causing a dull lower backache.
  3. Enlargement or swelling of a testicle – If you feel any changes in your testes, it is important to get them checked out by a doctor. If your testicles feel swollen, hard or if one of them feels much bigger than usual, visit your doctor right away.
  4. A lump on either testicle – A lump in the testicles may be a harmless cyst or benign growth, but it can also be an early symptom of testicular cancer.
  5. Pain or discomfort of the lower stomach – Testicular cancer sometimes causes no pain, but can cause aching in the lower stomach because of the tumor. This can also be a result of cancer spreading to the liver or surrounding areas. Don’t panic – many more harmless conditions can cause lower stomach aching as well such as a urinary tract infection.
  6. A ‘heavy feeling’ or pressure in the scrotum – Some men with testicular cancer may feel a heaviness or pressure in their groin area. If you’ve been feeling strange sensations such as scrotal heaviness, visit your doctor to be evaluated.
  7. A blood clot in the leg – Sometimes a deep vein thrombosis of the leg in young adult males can be the first sign of testicular cancer. Blood clots can also be idiopathic or caused by a less serious condition.

Check Yourself

The best way to catch cancer in its infancy before it causes problems is to perform regular self-examinations. Check out the American Cancer Society’s guidelines for a self-exam so you can find any abnormalities if they arise.

Same Symptoms – Different Conditions

Sometimes other health conditions such as an inguinal hernia, testicle torsion or kidney stones could cause symptoms similar to those listed above. Either way, it is always important to get any such changes to your physical health checked out by a medical professional as soon as possible, to catch cancer or another condition before it progresses.

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12 Surprising Ways Anxiety Manifests Itself Physically (Part 1)

Anxiety can be tricky, perhaps even the chameleon of mental health issues. It can manifest itself mentally, emotionally and physically, often mimicking symptoms of physical health conditions and confusing everyone in its wake. Most everyone will have little surges of anxiety from time to time, but some people battle excess anxiety daily, which can be tiring and perplexing. Anxiety disorders affect over 40 million American adults, and this is a modest estimate. Even those who don’t have underlying anxiety disorders may still have a little too much anxiety or have the occasional panic attack. Let’s take a look at the first 6 of our 12 physical signs that you could be dealing with too much anxiety:

  1. Heart palpitations – Many people don’t realize that anxiety can actually affect how the heart beats. If you feel flutters, the sensation of ‘skipped beats’ or a sensation of thumping, anxiety could be the culprit. More often than not, palpitations are nothing to worry about. However, in some cases, these feelings can be symptoms of arrhythmias (disorders that cause potentially dangerous irregular heartbeats), so it is important to talk to a doctor if you are getting palpitations.
  2. Chest painUp to 40% of those suffering a panic attack will experience some kind of chest pain. It can take the form of quick shooting or darting pains, slow burning aches or a crushing feeling. It is important that anyone experiencing chest pain is medically evaluated to rule out any underlying or emergency heart problems. More often than not, people who wind up in the ER for chest pains are not having a heart attack. There are many non-cardiac conditions can cause chest pain, but it is important to check it out nonetheless.
  3. Raised heart rate (tachycardia) – When you are afraid, anxious, or stressed out, the brain sends out the ‘fight or flight’ signal to the heart to speed up in anticipation of potential danger. If you notice your heart racing routinely, you should check in with the doc to make sure you don’t have any other health issues, or to discuss potential treatments for anxiety.
  4. Dry mouth – Anxiety can reduce the amount of saliva produced by your salivary glands, which leads to the feeling of a dry or parched mouth. Dry mouth can also be caused by antidepressants or other medications, as well as certain conditions (such as Sjogren’s syndrome).
  5. Polyuria (frequent urination) – If you are chronically or overly stressed, you may find an increased urge to urinate. Like many of the symptoms on this list, polyuria can also be a sign of more serious health conditions such as diabetes, but a surplus of anxiety can certainly cause you to keep running to the washroom.
  6. Gastrointestinal problems – sometimes people who have extra anxiety struggle with diarrhea, constipation, or a touchy stomach. Their symptoms can be similar to those of irritable bowel syndrome, or a person may have both anxiety and IBS, as the stomach and brain are closely linked.

That concludes Part 1 of our look at how anxiety can cause physical symptoms, but stay tuned next for a look at the next few! Thanks for visiting DocChat, remember, our excellent board-certified doctors are standing by 24/7/365 for any health-related questions you may have.

11 Signs That You’re More Stressed Than You Think (Part 2)

Unrestrained stress can cause a multitude of unpleasant physiological symptoms and can exacerbate nearly all health problems, both mental and physical. Is your stress level creeping higher than you realize? In our last post, we looked at such signs as negative thought loops, being your own worst enemy, being out-of-control of your emotions, unexplained fatigue and eating too much or not enough. Next up are:

  1. Your brain is a puddle of goo – If you’re finding it hard to concentrate on tasks at hand, repeating yourself unknowingly, procrastinating or forgetting every little thing, chances are you’re on stress-mode autopilot and don’t even know it. Our brains can’t function optimally when our cortisol levels are constantly on the rise.
  2. Your sleep schedule is thrown off – Most people who are chronically stressed have sleep problems. Whether you’re sleeping too much or not sleeping enough, going to bed way too late or waking up much later than you should be, you need to check in with yourself. Sleep is one of the cornerstones to good health. So, if you’re not sleeping well, figure out what’s bothering you and try to get back on track.
  3. You’re never “in the mood” – Has your libido taken a nose dive recently? If you have too much stress in your life it often impedes sexual function. When the body is in a state of hyperawareness, your cortisol levels are soaring which can seriously snuff out any desire for romance.
  4. Your head hurts – Are you getting more unexplained headaches than usual, perhaps of the tension variety? Chances are that unchecked stress is to blame!
  5. Your heart is misbehaving – Stress and anxiety can actually cause your heart to palpitate (the feeling of ‘skipped beats’, as well as race too fast (tachycardia). Have you been aware of your heartbeat lately? Does it feel like its not beating as it should? You may be anxious or stressed. It is important to let your doctor know so he or she can rule out more serious issues such as arrhythmias, but more often than not these symptoms are caused by stress.

Other symptoms of stress include stomach discomfort, aches and pains, itching or frequent colds. If you’ve been experiencing many of these symptoms, it is time for a stress tune up. Unchecked chronic stress can be a killer. It is linked to (or known to worsen) such serious conditions as depression, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, asthma and more. If you’re constantly riding a stress wave, you’re playing with fire. Check out our stress busting tips to help you lower your levels, or if you can’t seem to manage your stress, talk to your doctor about a referral to a mental health professional soon. Thanks for visiting DocChat!



Frequently Asked Questions about AIDS (Part 1)

HIV/AIDS has caused over 35 million deaths globally since the virus first surfaced. The CDC estimates about 1.2 million Americans are living with HIV/AIDS, and what’s more is that 1 out of 8 of those infected don’t even know it. Because of this, AIDS awareness and screening is vitally important.

What is AIDS?

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is the final and most serious stage of HIV infection. When a person contracts the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from another person or a contaminated needle it begins attacking the immune system’s CD4+ cells which renders the body unable to fight off infections. This can open up the person to many dangerous opportunistic infections and diseases (like cancer), which usually happens when AIDS sets in.

How Many HIV Positive People Develop AIDS?

Approximately 50% of those infected with HIV develop AIDS within 10 years. About 75% of HIV-positive people will develop AIDS before the 15-year mark of contracting HIV hits. There is a small percentage of HIV patients who manage to avoid steady immune system decline and can keep HIV in the early and moderate stages for much of their lives.

What is the Prognosis for AIDS?

While there have been excellent advancements in AIDS treatment and medications, there is still no cure so without treatment, AIDS is fatal. However, treatments like antiretroviral medications slow the progression of the disease, allowing AIDS patients to live a much longer and healthier life than ever before. 30 years ago, nearly everyone who contracted HIV/AIDS would be deceased within 5 years.

Does HIV/AIDS have symptoms?

Most people don’t experience symptoms early in the disease, however they may experience more cold symptoms than usual or a sore throat that isn’t attributed to anything else and doesn’t seem to go away. As the disease progresses, a person may experience such symptoms and complications as:

  • Frequent headaches
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Aches and pains
  • Chronic cough
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Recurrent infections or colds

How is HIV Transmitted?

HIV cannot be contracted by giving an infected person a hug or handshake, or even sharing a drink. HIV can only be transmitted when any of an infected person’s bodily fluids aside from saliva,  (blood, semen, rectal or vaginal fluids or breast milk) comes in contact with:

  • a mucous membrane (found in the rectum, vagina, penis and mouth)
  • an open cut
  • the bloodstream

This can happen during any type of unprotected sex (rarely via oral sex, but it is possible), a blood transfusion, tattoo or injection with an HIV contaminated needle, or it can be passed from the mother to a baby during the birthing process. Very rarely transmission has occurred when an HIV-positive parent with a mouth sore has pre-chewed food for their baby or when an HIV-positive person and an HIV-negative person have engaged in deep kissing where one or both partners have open sores, from being bitten by an HIV-positive person or from skin-to-skin contact where open wounds from both the infected and non-infected person touch.

That concludes part 1, but keep an eye out for Part 2 to find out about prevention and screening next! Thanks for visiting DocChat!


Does Lung Cancer Have Early Symptoms?

Lung cancer causes more deaths than any type of cancer, killing approximately 158,080 Americans annually. Early screening is key for a positive outcome, so it is important to get screened if you are at high risk (smoker or around second hand smoke, genetically predisposed for cancer or if you work a job where you inhale carcinogenic chemicals). In many cases, lung cancer does not cause many symptoms until it reaches a more advanced stage, but some people may experience:

  • A new type of wheezing
  • A long-term cough that gradually worsens
  • Frequent lung infections
  • Hoarseness or changes in the voice
  • Coughing up blood or reddish mucus
  • Weight loss or appetite loss
  • Feeling lethargic and weak
  • Shortness of breath

It is important to note that these symptoms may also relate to less serious conditions, but it is always a good idea to get new developments in your health checked out.

Lung Cancer Can Cause Associated Syndromes

According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer can cause certain comorbid syndromes such as:

Horner syndrome: Is the result of an interrupted pathway from the brain to one of the eyes or one side of the body. It usually causes uneven pupil size, drooping eyelid (or elevated bottom lid), and the inability to sweat on the affected side of the face or body. It is usually the result of another underlying medical condition such as cancer, stroke, a tumor or spinal cord injury.

Superior vena cava syndrome: SVCS happens when the superior vena cava (a major vein that carries blood to the head neck and chest) becomes pinched or blocked. It is most often caused by cancer. It is considered an emergency and causes many unpleasant symptoms. Singularly, it can usually be treated effectively.

Paraneoplastic syndromes including: spontaneous Cushing’s syndrome, inappropriate anti-diuretic hormone syndrome, blood clots, gynecomastia (breast growth in men), hypercalcemia (excess calcium in the blood), nervous system problems or excessive bone growth or thickening.

Symptoms of Metastatic Lung Cancer

In later stages, lung cancer can also spread to other organs. According to the American Cancer Society, this may cause such symptoms as

  • Unexplained bone pain
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Balance problems
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin)
  • Seizures
  • Swollen lymph nodes

That concludes our look at the symptoms and associated syndromes of lung cancer, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, don’t panic as many can be attributed to less serious conditions, but there’s no harm in getting checked out first to be sure. Thanks for visiting DocChat, keep an out our article on lung cancer prevention next!



Know The Symptoms of a Heart Attack so You Can Act Fast

A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infraction, occurs when the supply of oxygenated blood to the heart is cut off or drastically reduced. This happens because of artherosclerosis, a build up of plaque on the artery walls which leads to narrow, hardened arteries and sometimes complete blockages. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, and approximately 730,000 Americans have a heart attack annually. Because of these startling numbers, it is vitally important to know the signs and symptoms of acute heart trouble so you can take immediate action and hopefully experience a better outcome.

What Are Common Symptoms Of A Heart Attack?

Some heart attacks are immediate but others come on gradually, so it is important to act quickly if you experience:

  1. Chest pain or discomfort (many women experience only a feeling of “pressure” in the chest)
  2. Shortness of breath
  3. Nausea or vomiting (along with other symptoms)
  4. Unusual pain in your upper body like your shoulders, neck or jaw
  5. Upper stomach discomfort that may feel similar to heartburn
  6. Syncope (fainting)
  7. Extreme unexplained and sudden fatigue
  8. Cold sweats

Symptoms May be Different for Everyone

Other symptoms include anxiety or unexplained fear, light-headedness or faintness. It is also important to know that men are more likely to experience classic symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath, whereas many women experience less chest pain, more jaw pain and nausea.

Know the Difference Between a Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest

While a heart attack often has several symptoms, as we mentioned above, a cardiac arrest is often more sudden and comes with little warning. According to ACLS Medical training, a cardiac arrest occurs when the natural electrical conduction of the heart is interrupted by an arrhythmia, causing the person to collapse until they are revived. A cardiac arrest can be fatal unless immediate CPR or emergency defibrillation action is taken.

Don’t Wait Around – Take Action!

If you (or a loved one) are experiencing the above listed symptoms, don’t try to be a hero by ‘waiting it out’. Take immediate action. Of those who die of heart attacks, half die within the first hour of symptoms before even reaching the hospital. The earlier you receive emergency medical treatment, the better your chances of a positive outcome. If the heart is without oxygenated blood for too long you could die or become severely disabled for life. If you are wrong and aren’t having a heart attack, there is no harm done by seeking treatment. So, know the signs, know your own body and act fast.

Thanks for visiting DocChat! Stay happy and healthy!




6 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Developing Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer, also known as colon, rectal or bowel cancer, is cancer that develops from a malignant polyp or tumor somewhere within the bowel tract. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is the second most common form, second to lung cancer. The American Cancer Society predicts 136,830 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the United States this year, and over 50,000 will die of it. So, what can you do to reduce your risk of developing this terrible disease? Let’s take a look.

Can Bowel Cancer Be Prevented?

As with most diseases, there is no way to ensure 100% prevention but there are things you can do to drastically reduce your risk of developing bowel cancer. Some of which include:

  1. Modify your diet: Maintain a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables. Limit your intake of animal products (especially red meat), and try to avoid processed meats as they have been linked to increased risk of colorectal cancer. Try to decrease saturated fats and increase fiber intake as well.
  2. Increase activity: Be sure to exercise at least 3 times weekly (ideally every day) to help lessen your risk of many diseases, like bowel cancer. Leading a sedentary lifestyle can also contribute risk.
  3. Watch your waistline: Try to keep your weight within the healthy range for your height, as being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing many diseases, especially bowel cancer. Particularly men who carry their weight around their bellies are at higher risk.
  4. Avoid deficiencies: Specifically, vitamin D and calcium deficiencies can potentially contribute to bowel cancer if left unchecked for too long. Any deficiency is bad news, so be sure to get your vitamin levels checked and keep them up.
  5. Watch indulgences: try not to let your alcohol intake climb too high, and try to quit or avoid smoking as both can raise your risk of developing colorectal cancer (and many other types).
  6. Get Screened Regularly: It can take over 10 years for a problematic polyp to grow into bowel cancer, and early detection is key for better outcomes, so be sure to get screened! Regular screening is especially important for anyone 50 years of age or older, or anyone who has increased risk factors, such as genetic history of colorectal cancer.

What are the Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer?

Many cases are asymptomatic until it is discovered, but in other cases people may experience:

  • Changes in your bathroom habits (such as going more frequently, having diarrhea or constipation)
  • Difficulty fully evacuating the bowels
  • Vomiting
  • Chronic bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Stomach pain
  • Blood in the stools or vomit
  • A lump
  • Unwarranted weight loss
  • In some cases, an iron deficiency in men may be cause to investigate

While many of these symptoms can be attributed to other conditions, it is important to talk to a doctor about your symptoms. Thanks for visiting DocChat!




15 Surprising Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12, medically known as cobalamin, is an important vitamin that is responsible for the development of red blood cells and proper functioning of the brain and nervous system, just to name a couple of its duties. Our bodies don’t naturally produce B12, so we must obtain it through diet. B12 deficiency is a common problem because many people have diets low in animal products (the main dietary source of B12), or problems with vitamin absorption. Some surprising symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  1. Paranoia or neuroticism
  2. Depression, problems with mood calibration or behavioral changes
  3. A sore mouth or tongue (or swollen tongue)
  4. Lethargy or fatigue
  5. Anemia
  6. Foggy brain (trouble concentrating or reasoning)
  7. Heart palpitations or arrhythmia
  8. Nerve problems like loss of sensation and impaired mobility
  9. Stomach problems like gas, constipation, bloating or diarrhea
  10. Numbness of the extremities (sometimes can be confused with carpel tunnel)
  11. Vision problems like blurry vision
  12. Weakness, faintness or dizziness
  13. Jaundice (yellowing skin)
  14. Menstrual complications
  15. Shortness of breath

Time To See The Doc?

While it is important to treat supplements with caution and only start them after talking to your doctor, people who are deficient will require vitamin B12 supplementation. Vitamin B12 deficiencies can be serious business and may creep up on you over time, so if you are experiencing any of the above-listed symptoms, see your doctor soon for B12 screening. Keep an eye out for our article about vitamin B12 rich foods, thanks for visiting DocChat!