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When medical help is needed go for it

Symptoms you should never ignore: Don't try to decide whether you should or shouldn't seek medical help if you have any of these symptoms. Seek medical advice - get to a doctor as soon you can.

Chest pain

Symptoms of heart problems can range all the way from a crushing, squeezing pain that lasts for several minutes to vague chest discomfort. Let your doctor decide if it is only a case of heartburn-don't decide for yourself.

Severe shortness of breath

It is normal to get winded from running up a flight of stairs, but if you are struggling for breath for no apparent reason, then you should seek urgent medical help.

Unexplained bleeding

When blood shows up in places where it does not belong, such as urine or stool, that is a red flag. Rectal bleeding is always a reason why you should consult your doctor as soon as possible. 

Dizzy spells

Don't worry about that unsteadiness you may feel when you jump off the daladala (mini bus) too quickly to answer the phone. However, dizziness can sometimes be a symptom of many underlying things. These include serious occurrences such as a stroke (kiharusi), so if your dizziness is severe or occurs regularly, you should get prompt medical attention.

Failure to heal

A cut that takes longer than usual to heal could be a sign that your immune system is not working properly. Make an appointment with your doctor, who may want to do a blood test.

Excessive thirst, frequent urination

The symptoms of excessive thirst and frequent urination, especially when they occur with fatigue or weight loss, are warning signs that you may be suffering from diabetes mellitus (kisukari). See your doctor as soon as possible.

Abnormal painless swelling

Most cancers of different organs like the breast in the woman or man do not cause pain, and scrotal swellings should be reported to a doctor for advice and follow up. 

Impotence

If you persistently have trouble getting and maintaining erections that is a good enough reason to seek medical advice. However there is more. Erectile dysfunction is a good indicator of diabetes or cardio-vascular (heart) disease, both of which can be fatal. This is even a better reason for seeing your doctor.

Lingering illness

Even normally manageable conditions like coughing that stays for over three weeks, with no response to conventional antibiotics and coughing mixtures, medical opinion is needed. Cough of three weeks duration, fever, sweating, feeling unwell and loss of appetite may be due to Tuberculosis.

 The disease is not uncommon in Dar es Salaam where 25% of all TB cases in the country are in Dar. No cause for alarm but be on the alert avoid unnecessary congestion in daladalas. It is also wise now to go for Voluntary Counselling and Testing to know your HIV status. 

Women are more likely to go for medical advice, when they are unwell as opposed to men. With cancer tests, contraception, breast examinations, pregnancy, and childbirth, women are used to dealing with doctors. Men are not. 

And the medical and the economic system seem to reflect that. It is accepted that women need to go for gynaecological or obstetric care, but the health system does not seem to cater for men in the same way, and employers may be reluctant to allow their male employees time off for equivalent medical care.

Men are embarrassed and don't feel comfortable talking about their health concerns, especially if they involve impotence, prostate problems, colon trouble or urination.

Men are afraid. The effects of ageing are something nobody likes to face. The first experience with medication for a chronic condition like diabetes and or hypertension can be a disturbing passage. 

It means treatment for life, just like being put on ARVs. Consider the plight of any person regardless of gender to be suffering from the three chronic illnesses-diabetes, high blood pressure and AIDS to use three different life long medications.

 The treatment also means no alcohol, no smoking and changes your life style for the rest of your life. Do not indulge in unsafe sex.

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Author: Dr. Ali A. Mzige

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