When Should I Go to the ER?

Talor Bianchini
Talor Bianchini12 Dec 2022
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If you are experiencing a serious change in your health or a medical emergency, you should consider visiting the emergency room. It's crucial to weigh all of your options because the cost of an ER visit is typically much higher than seeing an outpatient doctor. Some signs you may be in a medical emergency include trouble breathing, a broken bone, or a head injury. 

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When To Go To The Emergency Room 

Visiting the emergency room can be a tough call to make. When facing a medical emergency, you may be unsure if the ER is the right place to visit or if an alternative may be a better option. It's essential to listen to your body and assess your symptom severity. It will vary from person to person whether or not you should take a trip to the hospital. 

You should consider your risk factors and medical history when considering your symptoms and deciding whether to go to the emergency room. An ER trip may be more urgent if you have recently had surgery or have a preexisting medical condition. Below we break down some signs that you should visit the ER and when you should call 911. 

Signs You Should Visit The ER

If you or a loved one is experiencing the following, you should call 911 or immediately visit the closest emergency room. Symptoms of an emergency may include:

  • Passing out or fainting
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Deep wound
  • Serious burn
  • Coughing or throwing up blood
  • Severe allergic reaction
  • High fever that won’t get better with medicine
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Inhaled smoke or poisonous flames
  • Unusual or bad headache
  • Dizziness or weakness that won’t go away
  • Possible broken bone 
  • Overdose of drugs or alcohol

When to Call 911

Even if you have decided to go to the emergency room, you may be debating whether to drive yourself there or call 911. Although you may be scared to call 911, calling an ambulance is best if someone is experiencing a life-threatening medical condition, such as a heart attack or stroke. Medical providers will often start treatment on the way to the hospital, which could be life-saving. 

Some other medical situations in which you will want to call 911 immediately include:

  • Choking
  • Stopped breathing
  • Severe burn
  • A seizure lasting three to five minutes
  • Head injury leading to fainting, confusion, or dizziness
  • Injury to neck or spine
  • Electric shock
  • Bleeding that can’t be stopped
  • Eye injury
  • Sudden inability to speak, walk, or move
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Talor Bianchini

Talor graduated from Penn State University with a B.S. in Biobehavioral Health, and minors in Spanish and Diversity & Inclusion in May of 2022. She has a passion for health equity and diversity in health. In the future, Talor hopes to work in public health policy reform to help eliminate health disparities. She enjoys reading, cooking, and listening to podcasts in her free time.

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