Pay attention to your bodys signals.

The everyday aches and pains youre used to could indicate a health emergency.

Usually a headache is just a headache, and heartburn is nothing more than a sign that you rang the Taco Bell once too often. Except when theyre not.

Pain is your bodys way of telling you that something isnt quite right. More often than not, you have some idea of whats behind it. But when it comes on suddenly, lingers longer than usual, or just seems different, it calls for medical attentionand the sooner, the better. According to our experts, all of the following pain conditions should be considered red flags.

1. Chest pain

If patients were to become well versed in what I think of as the subtle language of the heart, many could avoid needless worry and expense, notes Arthur Agatston, MD, a preventive cardiologist. Studies have found that women experience a wider range of heart attack symptoms than men do. In Dr. Agatstons experience, there are three good indicators that something isnt right, and they can occur in either gender. They are chest pain that doesnt go away, varied shortness of breath, and any upper body pain that hasnt occurred before. If you experience any of these symptoms, he says, you should call your doctor or 911 immediately.

2. Severe head pain

Chances are, its a migraine. But if it isnt accompanied by other migraine symptoms (such as a visual aura), sudden, severe head pain can signal a brain aneurysm. A burst aneurysm can cause brain damage within minutes, so you need to call 911 immediately, advises Elsa-Grace Giardina, MD, a cardiologist and director of the Center for Womens Health at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.

3. A throbbing tooth

Its likely that the tooths nerve has become damaged, probably because the surrounding pearly white enamel is cracked or rotting away. Unless you get it patched up quickly, bacteria in your mouth can invade the nerve. And you definitely dont want that breeding colony to spread throughout your body, says Kimberly Harms, DDS, a dentist outside St. Paul, Minnesota. If your tooth is already infected, youll require a root canal, in which the tooths bacteria-laden pulp is removed and replaced with plastic caulking material.

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