Medical Emergencies during the Holidays

hospitalIt is essential to know how to recognize the signs of a medical emergency any time of year, but with all of the commitments and extra running around, many people experience the symptoms of an emergency, such as a stroke or a heart attack, but for various reasons (hosting a party, traveling), delay seeking care right away. For many medical emergencies, time is of the essence, and delays in treatment can often lead to more serious consequences. Also, certain types of emergencies seem to peak during the holidays. Emergency rooms see an increase in cardiac patients who get in trouble from over indulging or ignoring symptoms, as well as many alcohol related problems caused by binge drinking. Emergency physicians believe it is the responsibility of every individual to learn to recognize the warning signs of a medical emergency. The following signs and symptoms are not intended to represent every kind of medical emergency or substitute for medical advice from your physician, but rather to provide examples of common issues:

Warning Signs and Symptoms

  • Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
  • Chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure lasting two minutes or more
  • Fainting, sudden dizziness, weakness
  • Changes in vision
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Confusion or changes in mental status, unusual behavior, difficulty waking
  • Any sudden or severe pain
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Suicidal or homicidal feelings
  • Unusual abdominal pain

If you or someone you are with experiences any of these signs or symptoms, seek emergency care immediately, even if you are in the middle of the big family celebration!

You also can learn to recognize — and act on —emergency warning signs by taking a first aid class and learning CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Your local hospital, American Red Cross, or American Heart Association may conduct first aid courses in your area or can guide you to organizations that do so.

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