You can never be too sure whether you should go to the emergency room after getting injured or developing a sudden illness. The question is how can you tell for certain? Knowing this is crucial, especially when symptoms appear insignificant at first but still should be attended to by your doctor immediately.
If this is what you’re looking to learn, you’ve come to the right place. Learning about these signs is vital since, at this point, you most likely don’t know what’s the right step to take. Worry not—here’s a detailed article highlighting the ten most common instances when it’s necessary to head straight to the emergency room.
In This Article
The head is very delicate, so when it gets injured, it’s best to make sure that you get immediate medical attention. This is especially crucial because head injuries might not seem serious at first, only for them to get worse a few hours or days after the injury. Even for falls that don’t seem serious, it’s always important to consult a medical professional.
The most common symptoms you’ll experience right after your head injury that indicate a medical emergency include:
- Ringing in your ears
- Serious mood swings
- Inability to move your legs or arms
- Always feeling very sleepy
- Muscle or neck stiffness
- Extreme fatigue
- Loss of consciousness or dizziness
While at the emergency room, some tests will be carried out to determine the extent of your injuries and save you from life-threatening conditions.
Blood clotting is a standard bodily process. However, clots in some cases may not dissolve naturally and start forming in the blood vessels. This condition can be very dangerous because the abnormal clot in the veins might limit the heart’s blood flow. As a result, this leads to swelling and pain due to blood clogging behind the clot. When this happens, the condition is referred to as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which usually affects the major veins in your legs. Other body parts that may be affected include the pelvis, other large veins, and your arms.
In some cases, a blood clot can find its way into your lungs, and this condition is known as pulmonary embolism. This usually results in the blocking of blood flow.
The worst thing about blood clots is that the symptoms aren’t always as noticeable. But some of the symptoms you should know about include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pains
- Severe headache
- Chest pain
- Difficulty speaking
- Facial weakness
The symptoms you’ll experience due to blood clots usually differ depending on the clot’s location. For example, the symptoms associated with a clot in the brain include difficulty speaking and facial weakness, while a clot in the heart causes sweating, nausea, and chest heaviness.
It’s important to seek immediate medical attention if you notice any of these symptoms caused by a clot in your blood. Otherwise, you might end up getting a heart attack or stroke.
Sudden and Unexplained Fainting
Usually, fainting doesn’t need you to seek medical attention as it’s easy to identify the possible reason it happens, such as an anxiety attack, sudden fainting. However, if you’re experiencing sudden and unexplained fainting, you should go to the emergency room. This is crucial because the fainting may be caused due to a severe underlying condition or illness caused by inadequate oxygen in your brain. Other conditions that can also trigger sudden fainting include cardiovascular sickness, low blood pressure, hypoglycemia, and arrhythmia.
Burns on Your Joints
Many times, burns don’t need the need of emergency attention. However, you’ll need medical care if the burns happen in sensitive areas with joints such as the knee, elbow, or wrist. This is the case because burning body parts with joints make it hard to use the affected part. But after getting medical attention, you’ll be able to use the affected body part after a while since you’ll get the much-needed treatment and, potentially, physical therapy.
Severe and Sudden Headaches
Headaches are caused by interacting signals between the blood vessels, your brain, and surrounding nerves. When experiencing a headache, the specific nerves that affect blood vessels and muscles get activated, and then send signals to your brain. Getting headaches is a common problem that everybody gets once in a while and can be triggered by several factors, such as:
- Physical factors, including an injury
- Medical reasons such as high blood pressure and migraine
- Emotional issues including anxiety, stress, and depression
- Environmental factors like the weather
Nonetheless, you should go straight to the ER if you experience a severe and sudden headache. It’s best to do this because the headache might be a sign of bleeding in your brain. The different scenarios when you should head to the emergency room due to a headache, even for the non-severe headaches, include:
- When the headache leads to slurred speech, vision problems, dizziness, and loss of balance
- The headache is caused due to hitting your head
- If you’re taking medicines that may be suppressing your immune system
- The headache is accompanied by vomiting, a stiff neck, and a fever
If you’ve suffered from serious headaches in the past, you should only go to the emergency room if your usual medication isn’t working or the headache’s severity is greater than normal.
Accidentally Stepping on a Nail
Sometimes accidents are inevitable, and it’s best always to go straight to the ER in such cases. One such emergency is stepping onto a nail that sticks into your foot through your shoes. It’s even more important to see a doctor if you have diabetes because you risk suffering from a reduced blood flow, especially in your feet.
Going to the ER ensures you start any necessary medication right away after your accident. This way, you lower the risk of developing a serious illness and, if you’re diabetic, preventing things from worsening.
If you don’t have epilepsy, then getting seizures is something that you shouldn’t take lightly. This is because seizures are caused by an abrupt change in the brain’s electrical activity and might be caused by a physiological condition or a stroke.
Seizures can also be caused by meningitis, an inflammation around the thin tissues surrounding the spinal cord and brain, and caused by a bacteria or virus. If meningitis isn’t addressed promptly, things can quickly escalate, and you’ll start experiencing other adverse symptoms, including a stiff neck, vomiting, serious headache, and nausea. Therefore, you must seek emergency treatment as soon as possible to avoid an adverse outcome.
Are you having a hard time drawing breath? If this happens, then you should immediately seek medical attention. This might be caused by several causes, including:
- Respiratory infection
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary infection
- Allergic reaction
- Cardiovascular complication, e.g., a heart attack
If you’re unsure whether you should go to the ER, there are a couple of helpful questions you should ask yourself, including;
- How severe is it?
- Do your fingertips or lips turn blue?
- Is your ability to talk affected?
- Did the difficulty of breathing happen suddenly?
- Does this complication happen together with fainting, vomiting, chest pains, or nausea?
Only after consulting a medical professional will you be able to determine the severity of whatever might be ailing you. If you suffer from chronic lung infections or asthma, you should head to the ER if your standard medication doesn’t help improve your breathing.
Severe Allergic Reaction
Another reason you should seek immediate medical attention is after experiencing a sudden and severe allergic reaction. Exposure to an allergen is the trigger for such allergic reactions. The most serious allergic reaction is referred to as anaphylactic shock, or anaphylaxis, which can happen in a couple of seconds or minutes. If you ingest an allergen, the allergic reaction usually happens much later after it gets ingested.
Most people neglect the severity of allergic reactions. However, you shouldn’t make such a mistake in order to avoid putting yourself at greater risk. The symptoms of severe allergic reactions you should be on the lookout for are:
- Severe swelling
- Hard time swallowing or breathing
- High-pitched or abnormal breathing sounds
- Abdominal pain
- Heart palpitations
All these symptoms can be life-threatening, so it’s best always to get medical attention should you notice any of them.
Experiencing pain in your testicles can be very uncomfortable. And because the testicles are very sensitive, experiencing constant pain in the testicular region is a valid reason to visit the ER. The pain in the testicles is usually a sign of abdominal or groin complications.
If you start experiencing severe and sudden pain in the testicles, this might be a sign of a twisted testicle, or testicular torsion. When the pain is caused by testicular torsion, the blood supply to the testicles begins to fall, which might lead to testicle loss. The symptoms of testicular torsion include chills, blood in the urine, fever, and nausea.
With the current global pandemic, you might be hesitant to go to the emergency room due to fear of contracting this lethal virus. This is in addition to the anxiety typically associated with hospitals. However, going to the ER may be necessary should you display any of the symptoms discussed above to receive immediate medical attention. If you don’t, you’ll be putting your health at risk and affecting your long-term overall wellbeing.