Deadly Symptom: A Leg Cramp That Won’t Go Away
The Condition: Deep Vein Thrombosis
A cramp, pain or tenderness in the leg can be a symptom of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This pain is a sign that there is a clot in the leg, which can travel to your lungs, where it can block an artery. If this happens, it can stop your heart and you could die in minutes. Symptoms include pain or swelling in the calf, pain behind the knee, or pain or tenderness in the thigh.
DVT is most likely to occur after sitting for long periods of time, especially during air travel. Other risk factors include family history, and taking estrogen medication like the pill or hormone replacements, as side effects already include blood clots. DVT is preventable; get up or move as often as possible, especially when on a plane (and avoid alcohol when flying). Click here to learn more about how estrogen medications put you at increased risk for DVT.
Deadly Symptom: Bleeding Gums
The Condition: Leukemia
In a healthy person, the blood components operate normally: red blood cells deliver oxygen, white blood cells fight infection, and platelets clot the blood. But in a person with leukemia, or cancer of the body's blood-forming tissues, including the bone marrow and the lymphatic system, there is an elevated number of abnormal white blood cells that don’t function properly. As a result, there aren’t as many platelets and blood does not clot as it should. People with leukemia will bleed and bruise more easily. Other symptoms include nosebleeds, fever, night sweats, and weakness or fatigue. A doctor can diagnose leukemia with a blood test.
Deadly Symptom: Shortness of Breath
The Condition: Asthma
An asthma attack is caused by the tightening of the muscles around your airways, inflammation of the lining of the airways, and thick and excess mucus production. A combination of all three will give rise to asthma symptoms including shortness of breath, which means that less air is getting to your lungs. At a critical level, this can stop your heart. If you experience asthma symptoms, talk to your doctor and avoid asthma triggers like allergens, pet dander, cold weather or emotional upset.