4. Unexplained changes in bowel habits
What's considered normal for bowel movements varies widely. Consult your doctor if you notice unusual or unexplained changes in what's normal for you, such as:
- Bloody, black or tarry-colored stools
- Persistent diarrhea or constipation
- Unexplained urges to have a bowel movement
Changes in bowel habits could signal a bacterial infection — such as campylobacter or salmonella infection — or a viral or parasitic infection. Other possible causes include irritable bowel disease and colon cancer.
5. Confusion or personality changes
Seek medical attention if you have sudden:
- Poor thinking skills
- Difficulty focusing, sustaining or shifting attention
- Behavior changes
These changes could be caused by many problems, including infection, poor nutrition, mental health conditions or medications.
6. Feeling full after eating very little
If you consistently feel full sooner than normal or after eating less than usual, get checked by your doctor. This feeling, known as early satiety, also might be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, bloating or weight loss. If so, be sure to tell your doctor about these signs and symptoms as well.
Possible causes of early satiety include gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly known as GERD, and peptic ulcers. In some cases, a more serious problem — such as pancreatic cancer — could be a factor.
7. Flashes of light
Bright spots or flashes of light sometimes indicate a migraine. In other cases, sudden flashes of light could signal retinal detachment. Immediate medical care can help prevent permanent vision loss.
April 14, 2017
See more In-depth
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- Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gastrointestinal-bleeding. Accessed Feb.21, 2017.
- Diarrhea. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/diarrhea. Accessed Feb. 22, 2017.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/ibd/. Accessed Feb. 21, 2017.
- Constipation. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/constipation. Accessed Feb. 22, 2017.
- Overview of GI symptoms. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal-disorders/symptoms-of-gi-disorders/overview-of-gi-symptoms. Accessed Feb. 22, 2017.
- Francis J, et al. Diagnosis of delirium and confusional states. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 22, 2017.
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- What you need to know about cancer of the pancreas. National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/wyntk-pancreas. Accessed Feb. 22, 2017.
- Flashes of light. American Academy of Ophthalmology. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/symptoms/flashes-of-light. Accessed Feb. 22, 2017.