Recognizing Medical Emergencies

How Can I Tell I Have a Medical Emergency?

As urgent care facilities are becoming increasingly popular across the United States, many patients have asked if going to a traditional emergency room is no longer the appropriate action. While urgent care facilities offer a wide range of necessary testing and treatments, they should not be used in place of the emergency room. Keep reading to learn the difference between these two medical facilities, as well as how to spot a medical emergency.

The Difference Between Urgent Care and the Emergency Room

Whether you’re preparing dinner and accidentally slice your thumb, or you’re having extreme chest pains, your first thought maybe getting to a doctor immediately. However, you must receive care for your condition — which means going to the appropriate medical facility.

When to Go to an Urgent Care

If you become sick, it can be frustrating to make an appointment with your primary care doctor without having to take a day off from work to do so. Urgent care centers are the perfect place for these sorts of non-emergent situations, and most are open outside of the standard 9 to 5 business hours. If you need to see a doctor about an illness or minor injury, urgent care may be the perfect place for you. An urgent care facility can treat you for these conditions:

  • Minor fractures

  • X-rays

  • Back pain

  • Blood work

  • Bumps, cuts and scrapes

  • Common cold/flu symptoms

  • Minor headaches

  • Vaccinations

  • Ear or sinus pain

  • Stitches

  • Sprains

  • Minor allergic reactions

  • Rashes

It’s best to call your nearest urgent care center before coming in for a walk-in appointment to ensure that they can treat your condition. They may tell you to either come right in or if the situation seems emergent, to go to an emergency center immediately.

When to Go to an Emergency Room

Emergency rooms differ from urgent care facilities in the scope of the health problem a patient is experiencing. If you have a life-threatening medical condition, you should go to your nearest emergency room as soon as possible.

However, it can be challenging to determine what a ‘life-threatening’ medical situation looks or feels like — especially if you are the one experiencing it.

Many patients wonder why there is such a big difference in care between an emergency room and an urgent care facility. This is because emergencies require in-depth diagnostic testing, and are designed to service patients who are facing a life-threatening emergency. Some of these conditions may include:

  • Chest pains

  • Shortness of breath

  • Dizziness

  • Stroke symptoms (sudden numbness/weakness of the face, loss of balance, blurred vision)

  • Head injuries

  • Neck and back pain

  • Accident injuries

  • Heat exhaustion

Below is an in-depth look at some of the medical conditions that may require a patient to go to the emergency room.

Medical Emergencies and Brain Injuries

One of the most critical parts of our body is our brain, and if it becomes injured, the rest of our body can be at risk. Changes in brain function should always be treated as an emergency. Signs of injury to the brain include:

  • Numbness

  • Weakness

  • Loss of vision

  • Trouble speaking

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Seizures

  • Confusion

Medical Emergencies and Breathing Problems

Shortness of breath is common when exercising, but if it comes on without reasoning, you may feel some cause for concern. Not all breathing problems are an emergency, such as if a patient is choking. If a patient becomes unconscious, they should be taken to an ER immediately. When a patient loses consciousness, this means that there is a diminishing amount of oxygen left in their bloodstream, and they should see a medical professional immediately.

Other causes of shortness of breath include:

  • Allergic reactions

  • Emphysema

  • Pneumonia

  • Pneumothorax (collapsed lung)

Medical Emergencies and Heart Problems

Patients who experience heart attacks may have severe pain, shortness of breath, weakness, or indigestion — or they have no pain at all. If you feel any of these symptoms, you should dial 11 or go to an ER.

Medical Emergencies and Heavy Bleeding

A small amount of bleeding is not a sign of a medical emergency by itself. However, if someone loses enough blood to make them weak or tired, and he/she is unable to control the bleeding, they should get in an ambulance or get to an emergency room immediately.

Don’t Hesitate: When In Doubt, Seek Medical Attention

Advance ER operates under the same standards as a hospital emergency room and provides many of the same services. We offer the following that makes us different from urgent care, including:

  • No waiting: Instead of waiting for hours to see an ER doctor, you’ll be able to be seen quickly.

  • On-site specialists: Our Specialists Now™ program connects with you with the medical specialists you need quickly.

  • We are open 24/7: While some urgent cares are not, Advance ER is always open. You can also call to speak with a doctor at any time

Whether you believe you are having a medical emergency, or need urgent care attention, come to Advance ER as soon as possible. For more information, contact us at our Park Cities or Galleria location:
Park Cities, TX: 214-494-8222

Galleria, TX: 214-225-7233

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Advance ER-24 Hour Emergency Room