Scary Symptoms That Are Harmless

Extreme chest pain, seizures and difficulty breathing are symptoms that cause alarm, but some people are scared by less-obvious conditions as well.

5-Minute Health Fixes

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The Doctors reveals scary symptoms that are harmless and tells you when you need to worry.

If any of the below symptoms are sudden onset or do not dissipate, be sure to see your doctor.

Incontinence is common for women after pregnancy and those experiencing age-related hormone shifts. Avoiding the following foods may help:

• Alcohol
Excessive water intake
Spicy foods and peppers
Acidic foods
Carbonated drinks 

Night Sweats

Anyone can get night sweats, and it's often for the most benign reasons. If you're otherwise healthy, some reasons you may experience night sweats include: medications to treat cholesterol and reduce fever, simple anxiety and a high thermostat. If you believe your symptoms are harmless, cooling pillows have been shown to help achieve a good nights sleep.

More serious causes of night sweats can be menopause, an acute infection, tuberculosis (T.B.) and — when associated with fatigue and weight loss may point to cancer.

Frequent Nosebleeds

While most nosebleeds are typically harmless
, they could be a symptom of a more serious problem such as a clotting disorder, high blood pressure or cancers of the blood (eg. leukemia). If you've never experienced nosebleeds, and now they've become a recurring problem, or if the bleeding does not stop through ordinary treatment such applying pressure and leaning forward, see a doctor.

Chronic Runny Nose

To know the causes of a chronic runny nose, pay close attention to those things that may precipitate it, such as changes in temperature, a cold or hay fever.  Saline drops, a neti pot and nasal decongestants are helpful and simple remedies.

If found in family history, a full allergy test will determine potential allergens that may cause a chronic runny nose. However, congested nasal passages may be the sign of everything from pregnancy to, in rare but serious cases, a cerebral spinal fluid leak or something foreign growing inside the nose. 


If numbness is rare and temporary, it's probably not serious and can be caused by the way one sits. However, if perpetual, if may be a sign of diabetes, stroke or peripheral artery disease — and this must be taken seriously.

Podiatrist Dr. Ali Sadrieh explains the causes of numbness in the feet.

Easy Bruising

Bruising occurs when blood vessels under the skin bleed. Aspirin intake can be a simple reason for easy bruising. Other reasons can be collagen breakdown related to age and the thinning skin of a woman.

If bruising can not be explained, it may be a much more serious condition, such as a clotting disorder, anemia or a cancer of the blood.

Ear Blockage

Plastic Surgeon Dr. Drew Ordon explores the causes of ear blockage.

There may be serious reasons for ear blockage, such as cancer in the outer ear canal, boney gross osteomas, trauma after an injury or leakage of cerebral spinal fluid.

Heart Palpitations

Stress, anxiety and caffeine are major contributors to a rapid heartbeat — and caffeine can surprisingly be found in everything from soda to certain medications, to weight loss pills and energy drinks.

A normal radial pulse (taken via the wrist) should be between 60 to 100 beats per minute, and slightly higher if taken while in the midst of activity. Heart palpitations are serious when the heart beat is irregular and are a cause for concern. Possible serious reasons for an irregular heart beat that require a visit to the doctor may be atrial flutter, atrial fibrillation, ventricular tachycardi or other arrhythmias.

E.R. Physician Dr. Travis Stork shows the anatomy of an increased heart beat.

Stomach Bloating

The Doctors demonstrate the chemistry of bloating.

The Flu and Common Myths

1. You can get the flu from a flu vaccine.

False: You cannot get the flu from a flu vaccine. The flu vaccine is inactivate virus particles which ready your personal immunity army to fight off the flu later on. Since it takes several weeks after a flu shot to get your immune system ready, if you get the flu from a flu shot, you already had the flu. What you can get from the flu vaccine is soreness around the shot area and a low grade fever.

2. Pregnant women and young children are at higher risk for flu-related complications.

True: Older people and those with weak immune systems are also at risk for flu-related complications, such as pneumonia, bronchitis and sinus and ear infections.

3. You don't have to get the flu shot until January or February.

False: The flu season is at its peak in the early months of the year. Getting a flu vaccine as early as October will allow the proper time for your body to build up antibodies before the flu is at its full outbreak.

Since the vaccine changes, it is necessary for anyone over the age of 6 months old to get a flu shot every year. They are readily available at any of the following places:

Doctors' offices
Health departments
Neighborhood pharmacies
Urgent care offices
Retail health clinics
CVS Pharmacies with immunizing specialists at every location (appointments made online or via phone — walk-ins welcome)
Minute Clinics

Hair Loss

Humans have over 100,000 hairs on their head, and while it's normal to lose 50 to 100 per day, other factors that contribute to hair loss include:

Everyday Health: P is for Pain

E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork describes three ways to send everyday pain packing

Poor nutrition/lack of vitamins
Shedding after pregnancy
Over shampooing
Braids, towel turbans or other tugging at the hair

Home Remedies to Prevent Hair Loss:
Add more fruits, vegetables and vitamins to your diet
Soak a cotton ball in witchhazel and dab it on the scalp for moisture
Add one tablespoon of honey to any shampoo
Mix lime seeds, black pepper and a splash of water until it becomes a paste and apply to hair.

In the worst cases, hair loss may be a symptom of scalp infection, diabetes or lupus, so you should see a doctor.

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OAD 11/29/10