Perhaps you experienced a sharp shooting sensation that you can’t explain, or a dull ache that never quite goes away. These types of pains can be clues to your overall well-being. Even if you’ve had blood work or other forms of testing done that indicated you’re in the clear, your body may be trying to tell you something is wrong. To help you prevent potentially life-threatening situations, Dr. Oz reveals the four body pains you should never ignore.
Jaw Pain: Can Signal a Heart Attack
A dull, vague pain on the lower left side of your jaw should never be ignored. This pain increases and decreases over the course of a few minutes. In addition, it moves around so you can’t quite pinpoint exactly where it bothers you. Known as “referred pain,” this sensation occurs when the nerves surrounding the heart become agitated, sending pain through the nerves in the spine to other locations in the body, specifically the left jaw, shoulder, and arm.
LEARN MORE: How to Know If You Might Be Having a Heart Attack
Dr. Oz’s When to Worry Scale can help you understand the difference between benign jaw pain such as TMJ, a sinus infection, or a toothache, and serious jaw pain associated with a heart attack.
Green Zone: Lowest Risk
If moving your jaw around (such as while chewing) increases the pain, it’s likely the discomfort has nothing to do with your heart.
Yellow Zone: Medium Risk
Jaw pain that happens in the morning can be an instance of referred pain and serves as a warning sign that you’re at risk for a heart attack. Your blood is thicker at this time of the day, which causes blood pressure to surge, increasing heart attack risk.
No. 2: Pain or Discomfort in the Chest, Throat, Jaw, Shoulder, Arm, or Abdomen
Chest pain could be pneumoniaor a heart attack. But be aware that heart conditions typically appear as discomfort, not pain. “Don’t wait for pain,” says cardiologist Jerome Cohen, MD. “Heart patients talk about pressure. They’ll clench their fist and put it over their chest or say it’s like an elephant sitting on their chest.”
The discomfort associated with heart diseasecould also be in the upper chest, throat, jaw, left shoulder or arm, or abdomen and might be accompanied by nausea. “I’m not too much worried about the 18-year-old, but if a person has unexplained, persistent discomfort and knows they’re high risk, they shouldn’t wait,” says Cohen. “Too often people delay because they misinterpret it as [heartburn] or GI distress. Call 911 or get to an emergency room or physician’s office. If it turns out to be something else, that’s great.”