Learn how CHI St. Luke’s Health is responding to COVID-19. Read More.

Visitor Restrictions in Place. Learn More.

X

Why Seeking Timely Care for Emergency Symptoms is Important

Why Seeking Timely Care for Emergency Symptoms is Important

Sep 04, 2020

Because the situation surrounding COVID-19 is constantly evolving, some information may not be up to date. Stay informed by following information from your local officials and by visiting the CDC website.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, emergency rooms across the country have seen a decrease in patients. However, in the event of a medical emergency, hesitating to seek care can result in severe complications.

“It’s hard for most people to know when to seek emergency care, but symptoms like chest pain, trouble breathing, confusion, severe abdominal pain, or worsening infections should be promptly addressed by a healthcare professional,” said Dr. Ronald Jensen, DO, an emergency medicine physician with St. Luke’s Health. “It’s important to treat serious infections or medical conditions promptly because, left on their own, they can rapidly worsen and become life-threatening.”

If you experience any of the symptoms discussed below, do not hesitate to call 911 or go to the emergency room. Your local St. Luke’s Health emergency room team is taking every precaution to keep our ERs safe, including providing masks to all patients, visitors, and team members, minimizing time spent in waiting rooms, frequently disinfecting every room, and keeping patients with respiratory symptoms in a separate part of the emergency department.

Stroke

During a stroke, timely treatment is the key to minimizing brain damage. Knowing the symptoms will enable you to take quick action. If you believe someone is having a stroke, the National Stroke Association recommends acting F.A.S.T.:

  • Face: Does one side of the face droop when smiling?
  • Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one drift downward?
  • Speech: Is the speech slurred or strange?
  • Time: If you see any of these signs, seek emergency care immediately.

The most effective stroke treatments are administered within three hours of the first symptoms. Recognizing these signs and immediately seeking treatment can improve chances for a full recovery.

Heart Attack

While treatments have greatly improved over the years, a heart attack still has the potential to be fatal and requires immediate treatment. Common symptoms include:

  • Pressure or pain in the chest or arms that may spread to the neck, jaw, or back
  • Nausea, indigestion, heartburn, or abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweat
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness

While a heart attack can occur suddenly, it’s possible to experience warning signs hours, days, or weeks in advance. The earliest sign could be angina, a recurrent chest pain or pressure that’s felt during activity and subsides with rest.

If you believe you or someone you know is having a heart attack, get emergency treatment immediately. Complications often related to a heart attack include abnormal heart rhythms, heart failure, or sudden cardiac arrest. Timely treatment can minimize damage to the heart muscle and lower the chances of these complications.

Appendicitis

It’s important to recognize the symptoms of an inflamed appendix as soon as possible. The risk of the appendix rupturing dramatically increases 48-72 hours after the onset of symptoms. A rupture will release dangerous bacteria into the abdomen and can result in a severe infection called peritonitis. To avoid this, you need to recognize the early symptoms of appendicitis:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Sharp pain in the right lower part of the abdomen
  • Fever between 99°F and 100.5°F, or greater than 101°F following a rupture
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty passing gas

Not everyone will have the same symptoms, but it’s important to seek emergency treatment as soon as possible to avoid peritonitis or any other complications.

If you or a loved one experience any troubling symptoms, call 911 or visit your nearest St. Luke’s Health emergency room. Our emergency teams are taking precautions to keep our patients, visitors, and staff safe, such as screening patients upon entry and separating them based on the likelihood of infection, providing surgical masks to every patient and visitor, limiting visitation, and disinfecting rooms thoroughly between patients.

Sources:
Healthline | Emergency Signs and Symptoms of Appendicitis
Healthline | Heart Attack
Healthline | Everything You Need to Know About Stroke
MedlinePlus | Recognizing Medical Emergencies
American Stroke Association | Stroke Symptoms