Is it An Emergency?

The ER Experts provide guidance about some of the most common symptoms and when these symptoms might require a visit to the ER.

Symptoms and ER Visits

Back Pain

While many people tolerate occasional aches and pains in their back, severe back pain may indicate a larger problem. If at any point you feel that your condition is serious enough that it can’t wait for a visit to your doctor’s office, you should visit the ER.

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Bites (dog and insect)

When dealing with an animal or insect bite, it can be hard to know whether or not to go to the ER. Many bites are minor and can be treated at home, but depending on the animal or insect the bite came from, and where the bite occurred, emergency treatment may be necessary.

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For some people, the sight of blood can be scary, even when it’s not life threatening. So how do you know when bleeding requires a trip to the ER? The short answer is you should go to the ER if you are losing a significant amount of blood, and bleeding is not controlled with direct pressure.

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Chest Pain

Chest pain is any pain—dull, sharp, burning, aching or crushing—experienced from the neck to the abdomen. Chest pain may indicate a serious problem, such as a heart attack or blood clot. Chest pain may also indicate a problem with your lungs, esophagus, muscles, ribs or digestive system. Some of these conditions are life threatening, and others are not.

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Cough or Sore Throat

Coughs and sore throats often seem like par for the course—especially during flu season. But if they are accompanied by any of the symptoms below, or if your immune system is compromised due to an existing condition, you may need to seek emergency treatment.

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Feelings of dizziness can actually indicate two different conditions: lightheadedness and vertigo. Lightheadedness can cause you to feel dizzy or as if you are about pass out, but not as though your surroundings are moving. Often, this feeling of lightheadedness goes away once you lie down. Vertigo is a feeling that you or your surroundings are moving when neither actually is.

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Mild fever is generally easy to treat at home with rest, fluids and over-the-counter medicine. However, sometimes fever is an indicator of a more serious infection, so here are some additional things to consider.

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For most people, the occasional headache shouldn’t cause concern. However, the sudden onset of a prolonged headache may require a visit to the ER.

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In many cases, a rash—or skin irritation—does not require emergency care. Common, non-emergency causes may include minor allergic reactions to plants (such as poison ivy and poison oak); allergic reactions to soaps, detergents or shampoos; reactions to heat or cold; and reactions to stress or embarrassment. When rashes occur for these reasons, they generally respond to home care.

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Stomach Pain

Everyone experiences abdominal pain at one time or another. But how do you know if it is severe enough to require an ER visit? The short answer is, if your “gut” tells you that you need help right away, you should visit the ER.

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You’re Feeling Weak

You’ve probably experienced feelings of weakness at one time or another, like when you’re tired, hungry or sick. But when does a feeling of weakness cross the threshold? Weakness in certain areas of the body may indicate a larger, more serious problem.

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If you feel like your life is in danger, please call 911 immediately.