Carolinas HealthCare System
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Signs & Symptoms

Concord Internal Medicine, located in Concord, NC, is pleased to be able to offer you the following information on signs and symptoms of common diseases.

Warning signs of a heart attack

  • Chest discomfort that may feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body such as one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath. This feeling usually comes along with the chest discomfort but can occur before the chest discomfort.
  • Other signs, such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or light-headedness.

Warning signs of a stroke

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.
  • Difficulty swallowing.

A TIA is a "mini-stroke" with the same signs as a stroke, only the signs last only a few minutes. About 10 percent of strokes are preceded by TIAs.

*** If you experience any signs of a heart attack or stroke, call 911 or have someone transport you to the nearest emergency room to minimize long-term damage. ***

Osteopenia/Osteoporosis

Osteopenia is a mild decrease in the density of the bones. This can be the beginning stages of osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become more porous, gradually making them weaker and more brittle. This is a disease that can be prevented and treated.

Risk factors for osteoporosis: 

  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Caucasian (white) or Asian descent
  • A small thin frame
  • Height loss
  • Smoking
  • Too much alcohol
  • Too little exercise
  • Too little calcium (now or as a child)
  • Certain medications, such as steroids and thyroid hormone (if dose is too high)
  • Early menopause (before age 45).

Treatment of osteoporosis:

  • Diet
  • Calcium and Vitamin D supplements
  • Exercise
  • Medications

Diabetes

Diabetes is a disorder in which the body is unable to properly regulate the level of sugar in the blood.

How Diabetes Occurs

The cells in our bodies need sugar for energy. Ordinarily, the sugar in the foods we eat is transported to the cells by the blood. The hormone insulin, which is produced by the pancreas, helps the cells absorb the sugar from the blood. When not enough insulin is produced, however, the cells are unable to absorb enough sugar, and very high levels remain in the blood.

Type I Diabetes usually develops in early childhood or early adulthood. In Type I diabetes the pancreas produces little or no insulin.

Type II Diabetes is much more common and is sometimes referred to as "adult onset" diabetes and is more common in people over 40.

In Type II diabetes the body does not produce enough insulin and/or is not able to properly use insulin to regulate blood sugar levels (insulin resistance).

Warning signs of diabetes

  • Increased urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Skin infections
  • Tiredness
  • Sores that take a long time to heal.

Dangers of high blood pressure (Hypertension)

High blood pressure means that your heart is working harder to pump blood throughout your body. This increased pressure puts the heart and arteries under strain and can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease or stroke if the high blood pressure isn't treated.

Treatment usually consists of medication, diet, and exercise. You may also be asked to cut down on the amount of salt and alcohol consumption. The sooner you are diagnosed and begin treatment the better.

Blood Pressure readings for diabetics should be below 130/80. For non-diabetic patients 140/90. 

Cholesterol (Dyslipidemia)

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in many foods. Once digested, the liver processes the cholesterol and can also make more. The liver can make good cholesterol (HDL) or bad cholesterol (LDL).

Triglycerides are a fatty substance in the blood. The excessive cholesterol circulating in the blood stream can combine with other elements and cause "plaques" inside the arteries. As plaques get larger they can block blood flow in large or small arteries causing pain with walking, chest pain, dizziness and heart attack or stroke. If you are asked to follow a low cholesterol diet, you will be asked to minimize the total fat in your diet, and increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables. Medications may also be necessary and one of these is fish oil to decrease Triglyceride levels. (Diets available by your provider).

Colon Screening

Colon cancer is second only to lung cancer as the most common cancer in the United States. Women who survive to age 60 free of breast or ovarian cancer are more likely to die of colon cancer than breast or ovarian cancer. It is the only preventable cancer known. Colonoscopy every 10 years starting at age 50 is the best method to prevent colon cancer in people with average risk. People with a higher risk due to a personal history of Crohn's Disease, ulcerative colitis or a personal or family history of colon polyps or colon cancer may need screening at an earlier age and more frequently.

We recommend that you have a screen colonoscopy every 10 years starting at age 50 if you are at average risk or sooner and more often if you have any risk factors that make you a higher risk for colon cancer. We will be happy to schedule this study for you when you check out. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. 

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