What Qualifies as a Medical Emergency? When to Seek Emergency Health Care

Catching the seasonal flu, falling, and scraping your knee, and experiencing the occasional headache typically aren’t considered medical emergencies. 

However, if ignored for too long, minor symptoms can turn into a medical emergency in no time. Many people assume that if they wait long enough, their symptoms will go away on their own. But this couldn’t be more wrong.

What’s A Medical Emergency?

medical emergency

The truth is, by continuing to downplay the severity of your pain or mental confusion, you are only increasing your risk for a medical emergency down the road.

It may feel a little silly to see your doctor for something minor like recurring headaches. But, it’s always better to address the issue sooner rather than later before it turns into something more serious.

Failing to do so can result in disastrous—or even fatal—consequences. A true medical emergency should always be taken seriously and left in the hands of qualified facilities.

“A true medical emergency should be left in the hands of qualified people.”

The good news? Not every injury or illness requires a trip to the emergency room.

It’s important to learn how to tell the difference between a real emergency and something that can wait. In doing so, you will know which scenarios require immediate medical assistance, and which can be resolved with a quick doctor’s appointment.

Below are some of the most common signs/symptoms that could indicate a medical emergency shortly.

Signs of Brain Trauma

As many of you know, a concussion or other traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an incredibly severe situation that requires immediate medical care. 

Knowing which signs or symptoms to look for in these situations is another story. More times than not, the signs in these situations aren’t always as obvious as they seem. That is why knowing the signs of an emergency is essential.

Four Main Symptoms of TBIs. 

            1). Difficulty remembering new information.

            2). Trouble concentrating.

            3). Brain for or trouble thinking clearly.

            4). Chronic fatigue and loss of motivation.

A few more signs to watch out for include:

fatigue
  • Extreme fatigue or loss of energy
  • A significant increase in stress or anxiety
  • Trouble sleeping or feelings of restlessness
  • Insomnia or other sleep disturbances
  • Depression or irritability
  • Constant nausea and headaches
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheadedness
  • Light or sound sensitivity

For some, symptoms may occur immediately after an accident or injury; while others could take days or even months to show up. 

You should call 911 and go to the ER immediately if you experience:

  • Slurred or slow speech
  • Numbness or impaired coordination
  • Extreme forgetfulness
  • Fainting, seizures, or convulsions
  • One pupil that is much more dilatated than the other

When in doubt, we strongly recommend you go to the emergency room after any form of hard impact. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Signs of a Heart Attack/Cardiovascular Emergency 

Another emergency you should never ignore is a heart attack.

Every year, about 1.5 million Americans have a heart attack. Therefore, knowing which signs to look for can help to save many lives all around the world. The sooner you learn to recognize these signs, the sooner you can receive emergency medical diagnosis and treatment.

Signs of a Heart Attack

If you feel intense pain, tightness, squeezing and pressure, or “fullness” in your chest and arms—call 911. Know that pain may spread to other parts of your body, like your neck, jaw, and even your lower back. 

You may also feel extremely lightheaded and dizzy—and be sure to take note if things don’t improve. Sometimes, people break out into a cold sweat and begin to have trouble breathing

ER for chest pain

Many people think the signs of a heart attack are sudden and seemingly “out of nowhere,” but that’s not always the case. Symptoms, in fact, may appear gradually or quickly all depending on the individual.

The best choice you can make if you’re experiencing multiple symptoms is to go to the emergency room.

You’ll be in the best place to get the treatment you need to make it through a major cardiac event.

If You’re Having Trouble Breathing

Trouble breathing is another sign that you in need of immediate medical care ASAP. 

This is especially true if you already have any respiratory illness’ or a condition such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Signs of Difficulty Breathing:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Labored breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Chronic coughing
  • Daily cough or mucus production

If you experience any of these symptoms consistently at an increased rate of severity, it’s time to go to the ER.

So, keep a close eye on the shortness of breath and chest pain, as those are two of the most common symptoms indicating a heart attack.

“Shortness of breath can also indicate pneumonia, and you should seek immediate merdical attention.”

Shortness of breath can also indicate pneumonia—especially for older patients or those with a weak immune system. If you also have a high fever, a cough that won’t quit, and find yourself frequently wheezing, you should seek immediate care. 

If you’re with someone who suddenly stops breathing, the first thing you should do is attempt to talk to them and ask for a response. If you don’t get a response, check for a pulse. While you wait for medical help to arrive, you can perform CPR on them to help them breathe.

Click here to learn the basics of CPR.

Severe Injuries and Bleeding

Sometimes, the need for a trip to the emergency room is much more apparent than others. 

hand injury

If you or a loved one has broken a bone, got shot/cut, or fainted,–then there’s no need to question whether or not you need to go to the ER.

If you’ve cut close to the tendon, or partially amputated a finger or other body part, then it’s useful to know how you can help save it. Here are a few:

Step 1:

Oddly enough, resist the urge to make a tourniquet. Though they make stop the bleeding initially, tourniquets often end up causing substantial damage to the surrounding tissues. And severe damage could leave you with an unusable finger in the future.

Step 2:

Instead, place direct pressure on the bleeding area and wait for emergency medical treatment to take over.

Step 3:

Ask if the individual if they have a pre-existing medical condition. If so, understand that they will lose blood faster than most people. For some, even minor cuts and scrapes may require a trip to the ER. The same goes if you have a history of heart problems, high blood pressure, or experience severe nosebleeds. 

Driving vs. Calling an Ambulance

Let’s face it: emergency healthcare isn’t cheap.

When you or a loved one is facing a medical emergency, the bills associated with treatment can add up fast.

Recently, more and more people are using rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft to transport themselves to the hospital. 

And while it might save you a few bucks, in a pressure-intensive emergency—every second count. 

Calling an Ambulance

Ambulance for medical emergency

If the condition is serious, an Uber ride that hits every red light verses, a high-speed ambulance could mean the difference between life and death.

Nonetheless, if you ride to the ER in an uber, it could make your injury/illness much worse than if you chose to ride in an ambulance from the get-go. Not to mention the benefit of receiving treatment in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. 

This is especially the case if you’re exhibiting the signs of a stroke or heart attack. 

Ambulance medical techs can collect your vital signs, assess your condition, gather your medical information, and gets you to the hospital quick and safe for immediate treatment.

Driving to ER

If you know your condition isn’t life-threatening, then it may be OK to drive. But, if you need to go to the ER and don’t want to take an ambulance, it’s always best to let a friend or family member drive for you. 

Before you choose to drive, ensure that moving the patient won’t make the situation worse.

Assess current traffic patterns and understand whether or not the patient needs medical equipment/immediate treatment before you decide to take a car to the ER instead of an ambulance. 

Where Can You Go If You’re Experiencing a Medical Emergency?

We strongly suggest familiarizing yourself with the route to the emergency room as well as the closest ER care options in your area. For further protection, keep your emergency contact numbers in your phone at all times.

“In a medical emergency, it’s always better to address the issue sooner rather than later.”

If you live in Texas, you want to choose the best possible standalone emergency room to make sure you and your loved ones are well-protected and cared for.

That’s where we come in. 

At CH1STER, our emergency room is professionally trained to handle a variety of conditions, illnesses, and injuries. Also, we have an on-site pharmacy, medical imaging equipment, an on-site laboratory, and much more. 

Get the Best Treatment for Medical Emergency at CH1ER

When a medical emergency strikes, you need medical care experts you can count on. We’re here to help. If you need immediate assistance, use our online forms to begin your check-in procedure. Call at (346) 248-7081 to know more.

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What Qualifies as a Medical Emergency? When to Seek Emergency Health Care | Community Health 1st ER – Deer Park, TX