As a caregiver, you’ve probably become hyper-conscious about the person you are caring for. You can read mood swings, physical and mental changes quickly and fairly accurately. When something is wrong, you take action and get the help you need immediately.
What about your own health?
Caregivers assume they are the healthy one in the relationship. Nothing can happen to them; they have too much dependent on their actions every day. Which makes the situation ripe for problems.
Most aches and pains aren’t signs of something serious. But there are certain symptoms that you should have checked out immediately.
Weakness in Arms and Legs
If you feel a sudden weakness in your arm, leg, or face, especially if it’s on one side of your body, it can be a sign of a stroke. You may also notice a sudden imbalance, feel dizzy, or have trouble walking. Some also notice a sudden onset of a headache, have problems speaking, or feel confused. If a stroke is caught early and clot-buster drugs are used within 4 ½ hours of your first symptom, you can lower your risk of a long term disability.
With any chest pain, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Any chest pain, especially if it’s accompanied by sweating, pressure, shortness of breath, or nausea should be checked out immediately. Chest pain can be a sign of heart disease or a heart attack, or could be a sign of other serious problems such as a blood clot moving to your lung. If your chest feels heavy, the pain lasts for more than a few minutes, or comes back again, seek help.
Lower Leg Pain
Lower leg pain can be a symptom of a blood clot in your leg, called deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. Many people suffer from this after long plane rides or if you’ve been sick and in bed for a long time. You may feel pain in your leg when you try and walk, or you may notice swelling in the lower leg. It usually is red and tender and is larger than your other leg in comparison.
If you have trouble breathing, hear a whistling sound, or are wheezing, see your doctor. Any breathing that becomes labored has a risk of becoming dangerous if not treated right away. It can be pneumonia or bronchitis, or can be a sign of a bigger problem such as asthma, severe allergy, exposure to chemicals, or lung disease.
Suicidal Thoughts or Feeling of Hopelessness
Feeling hopeless and trapped, feeling like you have no reason to live, is something to take seriously. Talking with a professional can help you make it through a crisis. Got to a hospital emergency room or a walk-in clinic to help you get through this tough time. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, or another suicide hotline in your community.
Caregiving is one of the toughest jobs you’ll ever take on. When it starts impacting you and your health, it’s time to reach out and get the help you need.