Find yourself searching for a "hospital near me"? If you are looking for a sign to go to the hospital this may just be it. Or maybe you have a headstrong, stubborn family member who is flat-out ignoring their own health issues, and you’re worried, go ahead and send them this video. Actually, while you’re at it, save this video for reference and keep watching because what I am about to tell you may just save your life one day.
And of course if you think you are experiencing a true emergency, please call 9-11 (Or your country's emergency equivalent) and or get to the hospital immediately.
10. Trouble Breathing
Are you huffing and puffing? Having difficulty breathing suddenly, wheezing or having any kind of out-of-the-blue shortness of breath? Well, you may want to have 9-11 on speed dial because this sudden onset of shortness of breath may indicate something much more serious that requires immediate medical attention. Definitely get to an emergency room if this is the case. As an ER Doctor, when I hear a patient is having sudden breathing trouble: there is a laundry list of medical conditions that could cause this we need to rule out the bad ones ASAP. Things like heart attack, blood clots in the lungs, problems with your aorta, other lung problems like a collapsed lung, asthma complications, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (or COPD), heart problems like cardiovascular disease, heart failure, infections in the airways like croup, bronchitis, pneumonia, the list goes on and on. Not to scare you but Trouble breathing is very serious and we need to rule out the potential life-threatening causes for your sudden shortness of breath.
A normal level of oxygen in the body is usually 95% or higher. Some people with chronic lung disease or sleep apnea can have lower normal levels around 90%. You can measure it on things like this oximeter that you can buy easily online on like amazon or something. But if your oxygen level drops below 90-95% or you just feel uncomfortable and are having trouble catching your breath, definitely get to the hospital now. I repeat definitely go to the hospital.
9. Chest Pain
If you have chest pain that lasts longer than 5 minutes and doesn't go away, I repeat chest pain for 5 minutes and doesn't go away. Even when you rest or take medication, this could be seriously life-threatening. Especially if you find that your chest pain is paired with shortness of breath, cold sweats, nausea, fatigue, lightheadedness, or any other pain that radiates out to other body parts like your arm for instance. This is definitely caused for major concern and you need to get to the hospital ASAP.
Your chest pain could be due to things like a heart attack (coronary occlusion), aortic aneurysm dissection, myocarditis, esophageal spasm, esophagitis, rib injury, and anxiety, among many other serious life-threatening issues. The moral of the story, is if you or one of your loved ones thinks they can just ignore their sudden chest pain or quote "work through it." Like I’ve heard a million times before, I’m telling you don’t be that person. Get to the hospital. Chest pain is your body's internal warning system to seek medical attention. So listen to it. Get to the Emergency Department.
8. Displaced or Open Wound Fractures
In layman's terms: Broken bones. Fractures in doctor’s speak just mean broken. And displaced fractures can either be open or closed. In other words, when you break a bone, the skin is sometimes intact (aka it’s a closed fracture) or if the bone breaks through the skin that in doctor's speak is called an open fracture). But no matter what you call it, if you break something in your body, or have a suspicion you or someone you love broke a bone, seek medical attention right away.
In the Emergency department, we’ll first assess the injury and take x-rays to see just how bad of a break it is. Then we’ll decide whether we need to splint it, sling it, or whether you may require a reduction procedure or surgery to put the bones back in place. It's also important to get checked out because you want to make sure that the displaced bone isn't doing anything bad like cutting off the blood supply somewhere or pinching a nerve for instance. And it's also important for pain management, even if you don't really have pain now. Not properly taking care of a bone fracture can cause major issues down the line. Get treated today and you’ll minimize things like growth issues, arthritis, osteoporosis or other pain in the future. Have you ever broken a bone? Let me know which one and what that experience was like for you in the comments below.
7. Fainting or Dizziness
Fainting is when you suddenly lose consciousness for a short period of time. You're talking, for example, doing something, and then boom the lights just go out, and maybe you fall to the floor. This is usually caused by a sudden drop in blood flow to the brain. These types of fainting episodes usually last a few seconds or even minutes. Usually, right before the temporary loss of consciousness, a person will feel dizzy, lightheaded, maybe even nauseous, cold, or clammy. Then your field of vision just sort of goes blank.
Passing out or Fainting can be caused by many different things: pain, being overheated, the sight of blood, and anxiety. Lots of different causes. But If a person you know faints in front of you, lie them down on the ground, definitely don’t get back up too quickly because this could cause a person to faint again. Remember it’s that sudden blood pressure change. So stay low to the ground to avoid further injury. Also make sure you call your doctor or head to the hospital because medically we need to investigate whether or not there is a more serious underlying medical issue going on that is causing the fainting episodes..
6. Reason to go to the ER: Sudden Numbness or Weakness
Numbness in the body usually happens when there is a lack of blood supply to an area, nerve compression, or even nerve damage. You know maybe you sit down for too long and your legs go all tingly. It kind of feels like pins and needles in your body. Well, that sudden feeling or numbness can also result from infection, inflammation, trauma, and other life-threatening issues like stroke. If this is happening to you or someone you know, pay close attention. If you feel numbness particularly that is occurring on just one side of the body. You need to get to the ER immediately.
Certainly, there are other neurological conditions that may cause numbness, but my concern when I hear sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body is always stroke. This is very serious and could be potentially life-threatening. Stokes is the number 5 cause of death in the US. They can occur when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When this happens, blood and oxygen can’t get to that area in the brain and brain cells start to die. So to avoid further complications or other potentially disabling outcomes. If you feel numbness or weakness in your body, play it safe and call 9-11 or seek immediate medical attention. (adlib about medicine if you want)
5. Bleeding That Cannot Be Stopped
If you have Bleeding that you can't stop after 10 minutes of the firm and steady pressure on it. Or if Blood is spurting out of a wound anywhere from say a trauma, accident, or other unknown reason. You need to get to the hospital. This also goes for symptoms like coughing or vomiting blood, blood in the urine, bloody diarrhea or you're pregnant and experiencing bleeding or you have any other abnormal bleeding that you are concerned about this is definitely a reason to come to the Emergency department.
Besides an obvious trauma that comes with its own set of possible complications and risks, there are so many reasons why a person could be potentially bleeding and none of them have good outcomes If the blood loss isn't stopped. Also keep in mind that a good rule of thumb is if you are trying to stop bleeding and wrapping it isn't doing the trick, place a finger or two straight onto the area and apply firm pressure, it may need a more direct approach to stop the bleeding rather than just say a wrap or bandage on the injured area. Nevertheless If severe hemorrhaging isn't stopped, a person can bleed to death in a short window of time. So call an ambulance and or get to the hospital immediately.
4. Abdominal Pain
This is the single leading reason people come to the emergency room, actually about 12 million annual ER Visits in the US, each and every year for Abdominal Pain. But just because a person has stomach pain doesn't always mean the underlying issue is actually a stomach problem. Your abdomen houses many other organs which could be causing the pain. Your intestines, pancreas, liver, kidneys, and appendix. Or is the pain caused by a gastrointestinal issue? Kidney stones? Did your Appendix burst? I mean the list goes on and on for possible reasons your stomach could be upset or in pain. So when to go to the hospital?
If you have constant or severe abdominal pain, or any pain paired with a fever. Go to the hospital. Or if you have changes in pain intensity or location. For instance: does the pain go from a dull pain to a sharp stabbing pain, or does your pain radiate to another area? If you answered yes: go to the hospital.
Also increasing pain in a very specific spot is worthy of an ER Visit as well. I’ll give you some examples: if the right lower quadrant of the abdomen hurts that usually indicates appendicitis which needs to be seen in the hospital immediately. Right upper quadrant: that could be an inflamed gallbladder or infection. The left lower side of the abdomen that usually could indicate diverticulitis or some issue or infection with the colon. So any specific area or any pain accompanied by another symptom like difficulty breathing, fever, or changes in pattern behavior, Get to the hospital stat.
3. Intense Fever
First let’s define what a fever is. A body temperature of over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 37.8 degrees celsius is considered a fever and often a sign of an infection in the body.
Now If a child is under the age of 3 months and experiencing any elevated temperature, call your healthcare provider or head to the ER immediately. For anyone older than an infant typically patients are told to come to the hospital when a fever is hitting or heading towards the 103 degrees Fahrenheit or (39.4 degrees Celsius) mark. Any Higher body temps than that definitely come to the Emergency department. Also if you or your loved one’s fever also has other symptoms that accompany it like: Fever plus severe headache, Fever plus rash, or fever plus convulsions or febrile seizures. Get to the ER. and of course If you’re still unsure just be safe and head to the hospital.
2. Confusion or Changes in Mental Status
Several serious medical conditions or even outside factors can cause changes in a seemingly healthy person and this is definitely causing for concern.
Serious medical conditions like stroke, infections like meningitis, brain injury, low oxygen levels, medication side effects, psychological issues, or even drug or substance intoxication. So if you see any sort of acute confusion or sudden mental changes in a person you care about, definitely seek out immediate emergency treatment because it could be a matter of life or death.
1. Anything You Are Concerned About
Listen I get it sometimes it is super obvious when it's an emergency situation, for instance, you get into a car accident and there are injuries, or you and I don't know inhaled poisonous fumes or have burned to any part of your body, these seem pretty obvious, right? Get to the emergency room.
But Hear me out. Sometimes serious medical issues aren't that obvious. Maybe your symptoms are a little vague or maybe someone is telling you to just ride it out. This is where I have to disagree and add context on when to go to the hospital.
Things: like severe onset headache (especially if the individual is on blood thinners), seizure, sudden inability to speak, see, walk, or move, sudden dropping on one side of the body, pain in the arm or jaw, car accident, kitchen knife accident, Anything at all that seems suspicious and or is getting worse over time. Or on the opposite end of the spectrum symptoms or pain that just comes on out of the blue, that’s what we call acute symptoms. They just pop up and cause a person sudden pain and discomfort. This could be your body’s sign telling you that it's time to seek medical attention.
Here's what it all boils down to the symptoms I've listed out are not a complete listing, but rather an overview or guideline to try and help you assess whether you or your loved one is at risk, it's better to get to the emergency room and be wrong but have the reassurance that the symptom was not life-threatening than to completely ignore the symptoms and put yourself at risk.
Believe me I've seen people sort of ignore their symptoms and the situation turns out to be a lot direr than they originally thought. “Headaches” that turned out to be brain bleeds or “allergy and shortness of breath symptoms” that turned out to be a heart attack. All the time I see this in the Emergency room. So give yourself peace of mind and either reach out to your health care provider, call 9-11 for an ambulance or get to the hospital immediately if you have any of these symptoms I've mentioned or any doubt in your mind.