Most people are hesitant about going to the ER mainly because it can be expensive; no one wants to spend thousands of dollars just to find out all they have is severe indigestion!
However, certain symptoms should never be ignored because they could be warning signs of a medical emergency. In these cases, timely treatment can be the difference between life and death.
Chest Pain and Shortness of Breath
Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States. Every year more than 700,000 Americans have a heart attack, so it makes sense that chest pain is one of the main reasons why people go to the ER.
Chest pain is one of the hallmark symptoms of a heart attack, especially when it is accompanied by shortness of breath, dizziness, sweating and pain that radiates into the jaw, neck and arms. Sometimes the pain is quite subtle and feels like an uncomfortable pressure in the chest or like the worst heartburn of your life. Head to the ER if you experience these symptoms together.
Worst Headache of Your Life
About half of the world’s population suffers from frequent headaches and migraines. This makes it difficult to determine which headaches are a medical emergency.
A sudden headache that is more intense than normal and accompanied by other symptoms, such as dizziness and vomiting, points to an aneurysm or stroke. Other symptoms include an inability to think clearly, and problems with speech, vision and swallowing.
Severe Abdominal Pain
Severe abdominal pain can be the result of serious conditions such as appendicitis, ovarian cysts or kidney stones, or less serious ones like constipation, food poisoning or IBS. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially if you are doubled over in pain, or the pain keeps you from sitting, walking, eating or drinking.
You should also seek urgent medical attention even if the pain is not so severe but persists or recurs, and is accompanied by queasiness or loss of appetite.
Getting hit in the head can cause a concussion or brain bleeding. A head injury that is accompanied by loss of consciousness, vomiting, a bad headache, dizziness or balance and vision problems warrants immediate medical attention. You should also go to the ER anytime you are knocked out, even if you feel fine afterwards.
A high fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher is a good reason to go to the ER. Similarly, a low-grade fever of around 100 degrees that persists for several days with no obvious cause also warrants urgent medical attention.
While fever itself is not a disease, it is part of your body’s infection-fighting mechanism and can be a sign of a serious condition such as pneumonia, meningitis, kidney infection or sepsis.
All the above symptoms warrant a trip to the ER.
Don’t go to an urgent care facility or your family doctor because they are not equipped to handle these medical emergencies. It’s also not a good idea to drive yourself. Depending on how serious the symptoms are, call an ambulance, take a taxi or get a ride from a friend or family member.