It’s sometimes difficult to decide whether the headache pain you are feeling or the bad burn you got while cooking dinner require a trip to the hospital.
Each year, more than 130 million Americans venture through the doors of U.S. emergency rooms. About a third of the visits are for the treatment of serious injuries; the rest involve critical and sometimes life-threatening illnesses.
Knowing the symptoms of some of the most common reasons for an ER visit can help you decide what course of action to take.
Heart Attack Symptoms
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chest pain and shortness of breathe bring more than 10 million people to the ER annually. But those are not the only symptoms of a possible heart attack . Others include:
- Pain that spreads to your shoulders, arms, back, neck or jaw
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sweating (cold, clammy skin)
- Anxiety (a sense of doom)
If you think you are having a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately. If you are in doubt, err on the side of safety and call. Do not take a wait and see attitude.
It is also a medical emergency if you are experiencing any of these signs of stroke.
- Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg (usually occurring on one side of the body)
- Sudden onset of confusion
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty speaking
- Blurry, dimming, or no vision in one or both eyes
- Dizziness, falling, or loss of balance
- Severe or unusual headaches
Accidental poisoning can be a life-threatening emergency. There are many ways a poison can get into the body. It can be ingested, inhaled, injected, or absorbed through the skin.
Symptoms of accidental poisoning depend on the type of poison, but may include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Throat swelling
- Mental confusion
- Unbearable pain or burning
- Severe vomiting
If you suspect an accidental poisoning, call 9-1-1.
Not every head injury will affect the brain, but a powerful bump or blow to the head can cause a traumatic brain injury , which may result in lasting damage. Symptoms of a TBI range from mild to severe.
- Unconsciousness (brief or extended)
- Headache (may worsen)
- Blurred Vision
- Slurred Speech
- Weakness in the arms and legs
Abdominal Pain or Pressure
Unbearable abdominal pain, anywhere between your chest and groin, can be caused by many different conditions including:
- Bowel blockage
- Food poisoning
- Heart attack
- Kidney stones
- Muscle pain
- Tubal pregnancy
- Urinary tract infections
Seek immediate emergency help if you:
- Have chest, neck or shoulder pain
- Have difficulty breathing
- Are being treated for cancer
- Had a recent injury to your abdomen
- Are pregnant
Excessive bleeding outside the body is easy to identify. It often results from injury due to accidents. Internal bleeding, from blood vessels or organs, can be life threatening and may require immediate care. Symptoms vary depending on where the bleeding occurs.
Vomiting of blood requires immediate medical attention.
High fever is not uncommon in children, but you should always call your doctor if your child has a fever over 105 °F that refuses to come down with treatment.
Call 9-1-1 if your child has a fever and is:
- Crying uncontrollably
- Unable to walk
- Having difficulty breathing
- Complaining about a bad headache
- Experiencing a seizure
- Experiencing blue lips, tongue, or nails
At the Regional Medical Center of San Jose, our highly trained physicians and hospital personnel are well equipped to handle emergencies. Our credentials include an accredited Chest Pain Center, a Joint Commission-certified Stroke Center and a Level II Trauma Center .
Regional Medical Center of San Jose was the first in the country to institute the Rapid Medical Evaluation ™ (RME) program. On average, patients are seen in just over 30 minutes.
For more information about Emergency Services at the Regional Medical Center of San Jose , please call our 24-hour Consult-a-Nurse Referral Line at (408) 259-4000.