Although a hospital’s emergency room can treat everything from a minor injury to a life-threatening situation, not all cases that are seen in an emergency room are severe. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were roughly 124 million emergency room visits in the United States just one recent year alone. Additionally, about 42 million of those visits were due to an injury.
The following are some of the top causes for emergency room visits:
Bone sprains and fractures
A bone fracture involves a bone being broken. However, when ligaments are completely ripped or or pushed to their limit, a sprain is often the result. Sometimes, sprains and bone fractures occur simultaneously, and can be the result of a body part being twisted a certain way during movement or physical activity. Although a sprain by itself may be very painful, it is not life-threatening. However, a bone fracture may be life threating—for example, if a patient breaks his or her rib, there is the possibility of a vital organ being punctured.
Many people end up in the emergency room with complaints of chest pains and worries that they are having heart issues, or possibly a heart attack. While this is the case in some scenarios, other times, chest pains may just be indigestion. However, when it comes to chest pain and feeling something you haven’t felt before, it is best to not take any chances.
Serious stomach pains, which sometimes are the result of food poisoning, kidney stones, or other severe conditions and illnesses, is another top cause for emergency room visits.
Upper respiratory infections
These viruses, which also include viruses that cause the common cold and the flu, are another top cause for emergency room visits. Emergency medical attention is necessary when certain symptoms are present. For example, high fever and/or frequent vomiting may be symptoms of something much more serious.
You may not think of an emergency room when you think of a toothache. However, patients with serious tooth pain during odd hours (such as evenings or weekends, when most dental offices are closed) will usually visit their local ER for some pain relief. Although doctors are restricted to the level of medical care they can provide for an individual with a toothache, they will often prescribe something to help alleviate the patient’s pain.