Should We Go to the Emergency Department?
A serious car accident sends us for emergency help right away, but what about a fall from a bicycle? Chest pains may signal a fatal heart attack; yet many possible heart attack victims avoid or delay a trip to the ER out of embarrassment. Any number of situations that are not obviously life-threatening leave most of us wondering how to react.
Time is of the essence in treating a heart attack, so anyone with sudden shortness of breath or tightness or pain in the chest, especially if it spreads into the jaw or left arm, should seek emergency care immediately.
Minor car accidents, a fall from a bicycle, a sports injury or a fall can cause potentially serious head injuries. Trauma to the head can cause bleeding and swelling in the brain which can result in brain damage or even death. Head injuries are the chief cause of death among young people, responsible for two-thirds of all deaths under age 35. If you suspect someone has sustained a concussion, all your doctor at once. If the victim is unconscious, get emergency help immediately.
Signs of a concussion include unconsciousness—even for a few seconds, headache, dizziness, seeing stars and being unable to remember events before the accident.
Prompt emergency care is also essential when noticing warning signs of a stroke. Numbness or tingling in an area of the body, especially if it’s on one side; dizziness; a sudden loss of vision or other unexplained change in eyesight; difficulty with speech or unexplained confusion can all signal a stroke and should be evaluated at once.
Severe allergic reactions also require immediate medical attention. Shortness of breath and wheezing, an itchy throat or the sudden appearance of a puffy rash are all signs of an allergic reaction. Breathing difficulties caused by asthma that don’t respond to the usual treatment need prompt medical attention. A serious attack could be fatal.
Cuts and Burns
Cuts and burns can range from minor problems that can be easily treated with first aid at home to serious injuries requiring immediate care. Deep or large cuts, those with objects embedded in them, or those that don’t stop bleeding after a few minutes when pressure is applied require prompt care. Burns that cover an area as large as the patient’s hand, that cause more than a few small blisters or that blacken the skin should be treated by a physician. Smaller burns in children may also require treatment. Chemical burns to the throat, mouth or eye require emergency care.
When in Doubt . . .
If you are in doubt about the need to use an emergency department, call your doctor for advice. Remember . . . the Emergency Departments of the Health Alliance are always available.
Healthy Living Article List
|For Women||For Seniors||Fighting Cancer||Your Heart||Emergency 101|
|Work Smart||Bones, Muscles and Joints||Nutrition News||Advice From Our Docs|