With soaring medical prices and long waits, most people will do what ever they can to avoid a trip to the emergency room (ER). However, some medical situations do require a visit to the ER. Many of us have a difficult time determining whether or not a medical condition merits that trip. So, how do we decide? We have summarized The American College of Emergency Physician’s list of instances when a trip to the ER is truly warranted. Below are 10 medical conditions that should prompt you to go to the ER.
1. Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
This could be a sign of an asthma attack or even a heart attack. Any difficulty with breathing or shortness of breath should always be taken seriously and checked out by a medical professional. Women often experience shortness of breath when having a heart attack, but ignore the symptom.
2. Chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure
If you feel discomfort or pain like a tight ache, pressure, or squeezing in your chest lasting more than a few minutes it could be a warning that you are having a heart attack. This pain may extend downward into your abdominal area and could feel like heartburn.
3. Fainting, sudden dizziness, weakness, lack of mobility
These symptoms could be alerting you to a stroke, heart or circulation problem, seizure or dehydration. These are serious conditions that should not be taken lightly.
4. Changes in vision
Sometimes stroke victims experience double vision or loss of all or part of their vision. If this occurs, the person should go to the ER immediately to be evaluated.
5. Confusion or changes in mental status
This includes difficulty speaking, unusual fatigue, and feeling disoriented. These could be signs of a stroke, seizure, dehydration, or another major problem.
6. Any sudden or severe pain
A severe headache (the worst you have ever had) could be signaling a brain aneurysm. Severe abdominal pain could indicate either an appendix attack or a stomach aneurysm. An acute shooting pain or heavy discomfort in the left arm could be a sign of a heart attack.
7. Uncontrolled bleeding
If you have applied pressure to a wound for 15 to 20 minutes and it does not stop bleeding, then you should see a medical professional who can assess the injury.
8. Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
Continual vomiting and diarrhea means you run the risk of dehydration, which can lead to other serious conditions if left untreated.
9. Coughing or vomiting blood
Coughing or vomiting blood could mean a bleeding ulcer, tumors in the stomach or esophagus, or a serious lung disease.
10. Suicidal or homicidal feelings
Sometimes a person with a mental disorder begins exhibiting behavior that could be dangerous either to himself or others around him. It is vital for a medical professional to see the person. Be sure to tell the ER staff what medications, if any, the person is taking.
After examining the list, we see that many of these symptoms can be warning us of the same conditions. However, we should take note that all the conditions are very serious and need to be treated right away. While we all hope to avoid the emergency room, there are times when that is simply not possible. Any of the above symptoms could be warning you of a medical problem. Our bodies alert us to serious problems via these symptoms, so we should always pay heed to the signals our bodies give us.
Learn more about the Saint Joseph’s Hospital Emergency Department.