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These 7 Signals Should Not Be Ignored

High fever or a splitting headache, cuts, bumps and falls... you wouldn't normally associate these health symptoms with a trip to the emergency room, right? In normal situations you wouldn't overeact either, but when the pain comes on too strong, you definitely don't want to under react. So, when should your agonizing headache be a cause for concern, and when does a bump or fall need immediate care? These seven symptoms warrant a trip to the ER. 


1. Headache


The occasional headache from stress or one too many drinks need not sound alarm bells, but certain types of headaches are more than just the average tension, cluster or migraine.

Head to the ER if the pain is intense and sudden, if it feels like the worse headache of your life, or if it came on suddenly as though someone had hit you in the head with a hammer. These symptoms determine the risk for a potentially deadly cause of headache known as subarachnoid hemorrhage. Another symptom to be on the lookout for is if the headache is accompanied by a fever, neck pain or stiffness and a rash, which could indicate meningitis.


2. Cuts, bumps and bruises

Be it an incident with a knife in the kitchen, or a misstep off the stairs, most cuts, bumps and bruises can be handled at home with an ice pack and first aid kit supplies.

Head to the ER if you can see muscle, tendons or bone. It is important to get such an incident addressed because they are fraught with potential secondary complications from infection, loss of function or reduced blood flow. 


3. Vomiting

Vomiting is a pretty common symptom that can be caused by a number of conditions, predominantly stomach flu or food poisoning and can be managed at home and a check in with your GP.

Head to the ER if you see blood in the vomit, have significant stomach pain or dark green bilious vomit which could indicate bowel obstruction. 


4. Abdominal pain

Abdominal pain

Source: Freedigitalphotos.net, Ohmega1982

Stomach pain can be caused by a number of factors from gas to a pulled muscle. But at times, abdominal pain may indicate a serious condition like appendicitis or urinary tract infection.

Head to the ER if you're experiencing intense localized pain, particularly if it is in the right lower part of your abdomen, or your right upper region. Pain in this area could indicate an issue with your appendix or gallbladder and may require immediate surgery. Alternatively, an inability to keep down any food or fluids, blood in the stool or a severe sudden onset of the pain should be seen to right away.


5. Fever

Fever is generally an indication that you are ill and is rarely anything but. More often than not, it is actually a healthy sign that your body is responding to an infection.

Head to the ER if a fever is accompanied by extreme lethargy or is present alongside other symptoms of infection. It is predominantly a cause for concern amongst adults with altered mental status and fevers with headache and neck pain.


6. Chest pain

chest pain

Source: Freedigitalphotos.net, Ohmega1982

Sudden chest pain can be scary, particularly since heart attacks are the number one killer for both men and women.

Head to the ER if you are experiencing chest pain alongside shortness of breath, decreased activity tolerance, sweating or pain that radiates to the neck, jaw or arms. Such symptoms should be more of a concern depending on your age and family history, both of which will put you at a higher risk for heart attacks.


7. Loss of function

When a certain body part or body function, such as numbness in your legs or a loss of bowel control stops working suddenly or over time, it's worth discovering why.

Head to the ER anytime something like this occurs, whether it is due to a trauma or has developed over time. A loss of function always requires immediate evaluation and can indicate physical trauma and stroke, both of which are serious and require medical attention. If something is not working right, don't sleep it off, there is a reason behind it and it needs a proper diagnosis. 

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