Since appendectomies are still on my brain, it seemed like a good time to compile a list of times when you should seek medical care, like, right this minute.
REALLY IMPORTANT NOTE: This is NOT a comprehensive list. This is, instead, a list of signs that something is (potentially) very wrong with you, and no, you should not wait until the morning to see if your regular doctor can see you. Please feel free to add things I may have missed in the comment section.
Also, a note for American readers: In most places, ambulances do not charge unless they actually transport you. And while transportation is in fact very expensive, not calling an ambulance when it is needed is worse. If it seems like someone cannot reasonably get in a car (driven by someone else, of course) and to the hospital, call an ambulance. If the EMTs decide transport is not needed, they won’t be charged.
On with the list:
• Any seizure, unexplained loss of consciousness, or serious trouble with your normal mental processes
• Ongoing bleeding; blood coming out of any orifice; more than a cup of blood loss
• Serious shortness of breath. If you cannot breathe, that is a medical emergency.
• A sharp, stabbing pain in your lower-right abdomen (this could be appendicitis)
• Paralysis; not being able to move any part of your body that you normally can move.
• A high (over 101-degree) fever that persists for twenty-four hours or more
• A broken bone (here’s how to tell)
• Chest pain (yes, even if you are young)
• Signs of a stroke (again, even if it’s not age-appropriate)
• Suicidal thoughts (ESPECIALLY if you have a plan)
• Uncontrollable vomiting (you need to get on fluids to not dehydrate; also, usually if it’s just stomach flu, doctors can give you that injection that hurts like hell but will make you stop puking)
• Nearly any head injury. Head injuries can sneak up on you; you seem OK at first but damage is ongoing.
Again, this is not a complete list and there are many, many situations when you will need to go to the hospital for other reasons. But these things are nearly always big red flags. Even if you are uninsured (European and Canadian readers, I love you but please don’t gloat), know that the hospital will work with you, and figure out a way to help you. These are things that will get worse before they get better, so go get help.
(Photo by PuuikiBeach)
What have I missed?