34 Seemingly Harmless Signs That You Should Actually Go To The Hospital Right Away

When it comes to health, all things should be taken seriously, whether it’s a common cold or something way more severe. That is because unlike computer game characters, we can not use cheat codes or complete missions to refill the levels of our well-being.

Be that as it may, some people tend to disregard certain symptoms, which might actually be something that should be checked out. Medics among the ‘Ask Reddit’ community members shared what and why seemingly harmless signs shouldn’t be overlooked. Emphasizing the illnesses certain symptoms can be indicative of, they shared their insight after one of the redditors asked what signs mean it’s better to head to the hospital.


Oncologist reporting in.

That lump that doesnt go away. That cough that doesnt go away. That diarrhoea that doesnt go away. Basically anything new that doesnt at least start to get better over the next couple of weeks or months. Could be chipotle. Could be cancer.

Hopefully wont be seeing ya.

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Pain in your leg without a cause that won't go away.

Many people have DVTs (blood clots in the distal veins) that break off and can travel throughout the circulatory system, and can cause a stroke if they block the brain circulation

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Skin or whites of your eyes are unusually yellow

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Physician here.

It's impossible to list everything so I like to keep it simple.

You know your body and how you feel. Any abrupt unusual changes should be checked out.

A few:

- Unequal parts: Draw an imaginary line down the middle and if anything is unusually unequal such as Pupils, facial droop/sagging, 1 sided weakness

- Sudden pain to light, especially with associating headache/neck pain or flashes of light

- Changes in sensation or communication, hearing, vision, slurring of speech, etc.

- Unusual shortness of breath

- Sudden and/or severe abdominal pain

- Unexplained weight loss

- Unusual bleeding

- Unusual swelling

- Sudden Confusion

When in doubt, get it checked out.

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Period so heavy it soaks through a pads in less than an hour.

For some people this is sort of normal but if you are bleeding through everything GO TO THE HOSPITAL!

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I'm a mortician, and I can't tell you how many pick-ups I've done where someone shat blood, then decided to take a shower to clean up before getting help, and then died in the shower. If you s**t blood, call an ambulance.

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Kids get fevers all the time and feel sluggish. Not necessarily a big deal.

But if your child develops a fever and a RASH that won't blanch on pressing head to the emergency room ASAP. It could be meningococcal sepsis and is rapidly life threatening. If you are confused about whether it is non blanching just press over it with a drinking glass. Looking through the glass you should be able to tell pretty easily if the spots disappear on pressing or not.

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Slurring their words without being under the influence of an intoxicant. An uncle was slurring his words while speaking to my aunt. She thought he might have been tired and told him to rest, but her friend suggested that maybe he should go to a doctor. Turns out my uncle was having a stroke. If he had laid down to rest, he may have never woken up.

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Loss of vision. Amazing how many times people come in and say they lost vision in one eye months ago.

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* A red line traveling from the site of a wound (even if it's just a scratch) towards your heart. That's blood poisoning, and you need to get to a doctor ASAP for intense antibiotics.

* Frequently feeling very thirsty, and drinking excessive amounts of water without a clear cause (like exercise). It's often an early sign of untreated diabetes, as you will crave water to dilute the sugar buildup in your urine.

* For the ladies, having very irregular cycles or skipping periods without pregnancy. This can be caused by endocrine issues such as PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) or a pituitary growth like a prolactinoma. In the case of prolactinomas, this can be accompanied by swollen or leaking breasts. Neither will need you to rush to the hospital right away, but both should be tested for just in case (via a blood test). If you plan on getting pregnant, you might need medication to bring your cycles back to normal before it's possible to conceive. And if prolactinomas are left untreated, they can sometimes grow big enough to press on your optic nerve and harm your eyesight.

* A tick bite that is red, swollen, or has a rash developing around it (often in the typical "target" shape.) Many people have heard about the target rash, but any signs of redness or swelling around a tick bite are a reason to see a doctor and get antibiotics ASAP. You don't want lyme disease, it sucks. And can sometimes cause you to have a meat allergy!

* Intense abdominal pain can be appendicitis. It doesn't always appear in the traditional location of "lower right abdomen, around your belly button." In my mother's case, she felt it much higher, just below her ribs. The GI didn't diagnose it, and she waited a week before finally going into the hospital where a CT scan diagnosed it.

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After head trauma, if there's bruising under the eyes (racoon eyes) or bruising behind the ear, this usually indicates a skull fracture

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If you strike your head hard and you suddenly start vomiting with no nausea. Along the same vein:

If a head injury occurs and the person is unconscious for any lenght of time, has one pupil larger than the other, isn't acting right, is hard to wake up...it would be time to call 911 and get to the emergency room.

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If someone seems drunk, they could have a dangerously low blood sugar. On the other side, if someone is shaking, breathing heavy, and has an altered mental status they could have an extremely high blood sugar and could be going into DKA

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In kids-teenagers mostly- constant peeing, constant drinking, cloudy eyesight and sweet fruity breath (when they haven't eaten anything to cause that) can be diabetes. Also, be on the lookout for breath that smells like nail polish. Could be ketoacidosis.

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If you just had an extremely hard workout and your pee is brown/red.

Hospital. NOW.

This means your kidneys are failing.

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Sudden toothache in a 50+ female with good oral hygiene. Heart attacks present atypically in many women, often pain in the jaw or neck. (Paramedic here)

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Just a medical student, and this is more an eye thing. But flashes of light and a sudden increase in floaters (specks, hairs) in your vision is bad. Particularly if you are already myopic.

Also headaches in the morning, or when lying down, which lessens when you stand or sit up right. Particularly if associated with vomiting.

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If your flu like symptoms don't go away after a month or so, go to the doctor. Keep an eye out on kids too. My friends daughter (aged 1) at the time had a "chest infection" for about a month. Her mother took her to the doctors 3 times and they just written her off with a chest infection diagnosis and that it would heal within time. Trust your instincts because one day my friend knew something wasn't right and took her daughter to the hospital. Her blood oxygen levels where extremely low and she fell extremely poorly that night and almost passed away because of the stress of being in a hospital. She got transferred to a children's specialist hospital that night and was put in an induced coma. Her lungs where f****d, the doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong for over a month (whilst she was still in a coma) then they eventually diagnosed her with a rare lung cancer. 3 years later the cancer won.

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A lot of folks don't recognize the more common signs of concussion often include severe nausea, sweating, and a desire to lay down. It can seem like someone's got a sudden flu, so especially with kids, you should ask if they hit their head if they're suddenly sick

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I'm not a healthcare professional in any way, but my grandmother had a stroke last year. The signs were barely visible, and I almost did not take her to the hospital.

One side of her face was dropping ever so slightly... you couldn't really tell unless you looked at a previous photo of her. I called my mother to confirm what I was seeing... she saw nothing. I made phone calls to hospitals to ask what I should do. They told me to take her to the hospital if I was concerned.

Sure enough she had a stroke... a mild one, but the signs were so so subtle.

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Projectile vomiting. Nurse here. Also, sometimes you just f*****g know things are not right. Don't let anyone talk you out of that. Go. Get checked out. Dying is not worth it.

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Sudden changes in cognitive and/or behavior are a telltale sign of UTI on the elderly.

I've seen a few elderly patients in critical conditions whose symptoms were attributed to age/getting old.

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Nurse here. I'm speaking on behalf of the elderly. Please just go to the doctor when you develop common cold symptoms. Too many times I've witnessed or heard about a perfectly healthy elderly person ignoring this, and ends up developing pneumonia. Pneumonia in the elderly is very dangerous and shouldn't be taken lightly.

Also, check the fingers for clubbing. When I was in nursing school I noticed an older guy, probably mid 50's who had clubbed fingers. I wanted to tell him to get it checked because he also smoked. I was still infantile and it got me nervous so I never did. 1 year later he developed pneumonia and come to find out he had stage 4 lung cancer. I can't help but think that if I would have said something it could have been caught earlier.

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Heart attacks present different symptoms in men and women. Men generally have more classic signs, like chest pain and shortness of breath. Women have more vague signs, and sadly, many of them delay seeking treatment because of it.

If you experience sudden onset arm pain, jaw pain, or back pain, nausea, sweating, weakness, and a feeling that something is terribly wrong, call an ambulance.


When you start experiencing vision loss, but both eyes are doing it independent of each other. When you're losing vision like that without a physical reason (like something in your eye) that means there's something wrong with your brain, and in some cases, that can mean the onset of a minor stroke. For example, you start losing a bit of vision in one corner of one eye, then in a completely different area at a different rate in the other one. I didn't get many of the "normal" signs but that one was a big one I ignored it.

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Weight loss when you didn't try to lose weight.

When you have cancer, the cancer uses up your bodies energy and basically burns calories. Very often it's the first sign something is wrong and everyone ignores it. It's only when they present with a second symptom, we realise had they come in with the weight loss 6 months ago, we would have picked it up at an earlier stage.

After that, I'd love for people to take age more seriously. If you're under the age of 30, chances are whatever symptom you're having isn't that important. Don't google it and think it's caused by a life threatening disease, because google dosn't put the symptom in the context of your age. Sure young people do occasionally get sick, but on a population level, you're wasting your money and risking having unnecissary tests by going to the doctor with every symptom the day you first notice it.

On the flip side, once you turn 40, you family medicine doctor should become you're new best friend. Any symptom lasting more than a few weeks should be investigated. You can't keep ignoring your health like you did in your 20s and 30s and get away with it. Unfortunately at times it feels like all the 20 years olds are demanding tests for silly symptoms, and none of the 40/50 year olds are taking their symptoms seriously. It's the 40 year old who probably has the curable cancer, that wont present with it until it become incurable.

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Not a Nurse, Dr, EMT or paramedic but I work for the fire service in the UK. If you start to feel dizzy, headaches or nausea and have gas appliances in the home (or open fires and log burners) GET OUT OF THE HOUSE AND CALL 999! Especially if any of these appliances are new, recently serviced or are being used for the first time in a while.

These are signs of a carbon monoxide leak. If you have pets that are acting weird as well this can also be a sign. Carbon monoxide is denser than air and will sit at a low level so opening windows WILL NOT CLEAR IT EFFECTIVELY. open your doors and all the doors on the ground floor and evacuate the building, including children! I DONT CARE IF ITS 3am and they have school in the morning (I have genuinely had a caller say this to me before).

Carbon monoxide is NOT to be messed with it is colourless, odourless and tasteless and It doesn't take much to kill you either!

Call the emergency services, we carry gas monitors and equipment to clear the property in the case there is a leak and can isolate the appliances/source of the leak. We will then organise for the gas board to come and fix the leak.


If you suspect a leak, get out. No matter the time of day. Call 999 and get the f**k out! We will be there in no time. We would rather you call us an it be a false alarm than someone die!

And lastly, if you have an open fire or a log burner. GET YOUR CHIMNEY SWEPT. AT LEAST ANNUALLY!! This will reduce the risk of a chimney blockage that could lead to carbon monoxide build up and will reduce the risk of chimney fires. Both of which kill people!

PLEASE TAKE THIS ON BOARD PEOPLE!! Please! I've had too many deaths due to Carbon Monoxide now. If you are a kid... MAKE YOUR PARENTS READ THIS!

Source: current 999 call handler for the fire service. I handle this stuff DAILY and have done a lot of extra curricular research on it!

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•If you have a young child with a sore throat, difficulty swallowing, looking pale, vacant and dribbling unexpectedly, call for an ambulance. It could be [epiglottitis](http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Epiglottitis/Pages/Introduction.aspx), which is a surgical emergency.

•Meningitis: almost everyone knows about a non-blanching rash being a sign of meningitis, but this is a late sign. Don't dismiss the possibility of meningitis just because you can't see a rash. Other signs to look out for are:
-Photophobia (discomfort from looking at a light source)
-Neck/joint stiffness (can the child rest their chin on their chest, or bring their knees up towards their abdomen without discomfort?)
If you suspect meningitis, call for an ambulance.

•Chest pain. Although it's an obvious one, a surprising amount of people ignore chest pain. If you have chest pain that feels like a weight is on your chest, or like there's a band going around your chest and squeezing it, call for an ambulance.

•Head injuries with blood thinners. Most head injuries will be fairly innocuous, but patients who take blood thinning medication (e.g. warfarin) or who have known bleeding disorders should ALWAYS get checked out by a doctor following a bang to the head.

•A history of unconsciousness following trauma. People get knocked out in movies all the time. They get back up and carry on as normal. But for the love of all things holy, any physical trauma that's led to a loss of consciousness needs investigating.

Source: NHS Paramedic.


Not a doctor yet, but adding to what others have said:

If you have a headache and stiff neck, and especially if you also feel drowsy and notice a rash - signs of meningitis, inflammation of the protective coverings of your brain

There are also many symptoms that should make you go to the doctor (but not necessarily the hospital) if present persistently for a few weeks without getting better:


-unintended weight loss


-night sweats

-much looser/pale poo


Those are the classic ones off the top of my head

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ER nurse here. Everyone has listed stroke symptoms and heart attack symptoms... the most important time to seek help is with any airway and/or breathing issues. Anything that restricts your ability to breath is dangerous. Especially with kids. Kids have the ability to compensate very well but when their bodies lose that ability they tank very quickly.

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Obligatory "not any of these" but my mother is a nurse, and I had a horrifying experience because my stubborn father wouldn't tell her he wasn't feeling well.

Evidently, he'd begun having trouble breathing, felt light heated, sick to his stomach, and just generally not okay. My dad spent 25 years in the military and is the worst person when he's sick because he won't admit anything's wrong. If that man says the words "I think I should go to the hospital" he should've been on the way hours ago.

I come into the living room one day to find him unconscious on the floor in an awkward heep. I went into blank-brain panic mode and thought "hospital" and dragged him outside, to my car, got him in and buckled, and the tore out of there. Called my sis, who lived on the road to the hospital, and had her jump into the moving car.

By the time he'd been admitted, tests run, ventilator applied, and all that, he'd not only been diagnosed with pneumonia but also stage 2 kidney cancer.

Long story short, pay attention to your body. If you feel wrong, pushing it off will *not* make it go away, and you could get yourself killed. My dad nearly died that day, and all because he wouldn't speak up days earlier when he started feeling bad.

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Bruising, though more specifically easy bruising, especially if accompanied by other bleeding events that might appear to be benign e.g. nose bleeds, and gum bleeding. All of which might be casually be explained away using "Oops, look how clumsy I am."

The human body and its vasculature is relatively resilient to wear and tear, in fact, your capillaries are probably getting beat up right now (a bit of a hyperbole, but just a bit), but platelets, along with the rest of your coagulation processes keep all that red stuff (your blood) contained.

However in hematologic malignancies or coagulopathies, platelet production, function, or associated down stream processes can be hindered. This leads to tears that allow blood to seep out.


If you have prolonged continuous hiccuping it may be the sign of a neurological problem (i'm talking for upwards of several days)


Your child vomiting in the morning, even before breakfast. Not worrisome right away, but if it happens multiple times. Can be an early sign of brain cancer.

Blood in your urine - Many people neglect this, could be an inflammation of your kidney or bladder cancer.

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