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7 Signs That Could Signal a Medical Emergency

Posted by David Ghiorso, CPA, December 2, 2020

Aches and pains can be common at any age, but often become more frequent during the retirement years. We’re all accustomed to reaching for over-the-counter remedies for symptoms such as headaches and sore lower backs. However, some seemingly random pains can actually be a sign of an emergency. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor or head to an emergency room right away.

Chest pain. Heart attacks can manifest in a variety of ways, and it won’t always feel like extreme pain. You might feel pressure or a heaviness instead. Other signs of a heart attack include dizziness, shortness of breath, or fatigue.

An unusual headache. If your headache accompanies other unusual symptoms, you should be examined right away. If the pain is more severe than usual, or if it is accompanied by vision changes, weakness, or neck stiffness, you might have a more serious condition. Also, those who take blood thinners should be aware that a simple bump on the head can result in significant internal bleeding.

New and severe abdominal pain. If abdominal pain is like nothing you’ve ever experienced, or if it is accompanied by swelling, fever, or vomiting, you could have a more serious condition.

Sudden eye pain. A wide variety of conditions can trigger this unusual symptom, including blocked blood vessels, internal bleeding, glaucoma, and even the onset of shingles.

Calf pain. Especially if you’ve recently had surgery, calf pain can be a sign of deep vein thrombosis. This is a dangerous blood clot that can travel and block blood supply to your lungs and must be remedied immediately.

Pain that occurs days after a minor wound. Even minor injuries can become infected. If you experience increasing pain or swelling days after the event, it is possible you’re harboring an infection that needs to be treated.

Any time pain is accompanied by loss of function. Injuries are going to hurt, but if you can’t use the affected body part you should have it examined. Loss of function can indicate a broken bone, fracture, nerve injury, blood flow problem, or serious infection.

Of course, you should never leap to conclusions and diagnose yourself. This can lead to panic and make a situation even worse. If you do experience any of these concerning symptoms, stay calm and ask someone to call an ambulance or drive you to the emergency room. With prompt treatment, most emergency situations can be treated and resolved.

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