Wouldn’t it be great if all diseases presented exactly the way that they are described in medical textbooks?

In medicine we call this a classical presentation. Unfortunately for many if not most diseases the most common presentation is not that way. The problem comes when patient ignore symptoms because they are not classical for dangerous diseases.

For example, not all heart attacks cause chest pain. In fact for older individuals a heart attack may present with just weakness and nothing else. Sometimes, belly pain might be a sign of a heart attack.

Many times the stroke will present with weakness and facial droop. Other times however, there might just be confusion, sleepiness or a seizure.

While chest pain often is a sign of a heart attack, chest pain can be seen in other dangerous conditions as well. These include blood clot to the long, and aortic aneurysm, or fluid around the heart.

Pneumonia among older patients may just appear as weakness with or without a cough and nothing else.

So if we can’t rely on symptoms of classical illnesses, what should we do?

Well, if you are concerned about symptoms that you are experiencing, call your doctor or if your doctor is unavailable go to the emergency room. It is certainly better to be seen in the emergency room for a minor complaint then to miss a complaint which is a warning sign of a serious condition.