10 times you really need to go to the ER

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ERs are crowded with people wanting to be seen for everything from stomach aches to broken toes.  ERs are crowded with people wanting to be seen for everything from stomach aches to broken toes. Dr. Sharon Thompson, MD, MPH, FACOG, Managing Director at Central Phoenix Obstetrics and Gynecology tells us when you shouldn't question these serious issues.

Who should definitely go to the ER (some may need to call 911 immediately)
1.    Chest pain that you can't point to with a finger. 
    This could be the sign of heart attack
    Especially if the pain is accompanied by pain to the neck and/or left arm (pains from heart attacks tend to radiate to the left side), sweating, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, dizziness, or feeling that your heart is beating irregularly or too fast
2.    Change in mental status
    This includes unusual behavior, confusion, difficulty arousing, not being able to walk, speak, or move a portion of your body
    This may be sign of injury to the brain from a blood clot, bleeding (stroke) or concussion 
3.    Bleeding that will not stop
    If you've applied direct pressure for more than 15 minutes and it is still bleeding 
    If the bleeding has stopped, but you have jagged skin or exposed muscle or bone
    Wounds need to be cleaned and stitched immediately to minimize the possibility of infections, scarring or damage to the nerves or tissue
4.    You hit your head and lost consciousness or have changes in your vision
    Could be a serious brain injury (concussion or stroke)
5.    You have an excruciating headache or one that won't stop.
    The pain could come on suddenly and may include problems with speech, vision, swallowing, movement or thinking clearly
    If you are having 'the worst headache of your life' (could be from bleeding in the brain) 
    A severe headache has lasted more than 72 hours (status migranosus)
6.    Breathing problems (difficulty breathing, shortness of breath)
    Especially if:
o    you have a history of asthma and usual medicines are not working
o    You swallowed a foreign object
o    You ate a new food or at a new restaurant (could be a severe and potentially fatal allergic reactionanaphylaxis)
7.    Sudden, severe pain anywhere in the body 
    Pain that starts suddenly and makes you double over or doesn't go away with over-the-counter pain medicine
    Sudden, severe pain could be the sign of conditions that require surgery, sometimes right away --from appendicitis, to an ovary twisted on its blood supply, to gall stones 
    Pain might be accompanied by nausea, loss of appetite dizziness or fainting
8.    Coughing up or vomiting blood
9.    Swallowing a poisonous substance
10.    A strong feeling or thinking about plans to hurt yourself or someone else 

When you DO NOT need to go to the ER right away
§    Cold or flu symptoms
§    Sore throat (not related to swallowing a foreign object)
§    A fever that is relieved with over-the-counter medication
§    Toothache
§    Minor cuts, scrapes and abrasions
§    Muscle sprains
§    Sunburn
§    Chronic problems that have not changed

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