Medical emergencies are prevalent, and it’s something that can occur at any time. Emergency cases often happen when you least expect them, like at a game, grocery store, or city street. Everyone should be well versed in identifying an emergency, while healthcare professionals should better understand how to respond to common medical emergencies. That said, here are the six common medical emergencies that people experience.
1. Heart attack and chest pain
A heart attack occurs when there is insufficient blood supply to the heart. This usually happens when the artery supplying blood to the heart muscles is clogged or blocked by a blood clot.
A heart attack should be treated within the first 90 minutes to increase the chances of survival. You can give the patient an aspirin tablet before getting to the hospital to reduce the risk of clot formation.
Make the patient sit in a comfortable position, and if the patient has difficulty breathing or is not responsive, apply hands-on CPR to double the chance of survival. If you don’t have hand experience in CPR, get some training from a reliable first aid training provider.
Although severe pain is the most common sign of a heart attack, the patient may not experience the pain in some cases. Instead, they can experience the same discomfort caused by indigestion. This is more common in the elderly, women, and diabetic patients.
Cuts or wounds lead to bleeding, but serious injuries such as trauma can lead to invisible internal bleeding. Most bleeding incidents don’t require emergency medical care and can often be managed by proper first aid at home with the advice of a physician or general practitioner. Nevertheless, you should seek medical emergency treatment when:
- The bleeding doesn’t stop even after giving first aid management
- The cut is deeper, or you can see an object inside the wound
- You can spot bone or body tissue
A considerable amount of blood loss can cause the injured person to feel unwell, dizzy, appear pale, or even lose consciousness. When this happens, emergency medical treatment is necessary.
3. Sudden breathing difficulties
Sudden breathing difficulty, whether persistent or short-lived, can be caused by an underlying health condition. The most common culprits are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, respiratory syncytial virus, asthma, and allergies. While shortness of breath can occur during workouts, sudden or unexpected breathlessness may be a call for concern.
Breathing difficulties can cause the patient to panic, which may further impact their breathing. It’s essential to try and keep the incident as calm as possible. If you are concerned about someone’s breathing, find medical help by calling 999 or 111.
4. Burns and scalds
Burns may be caused by dry heat such as fire, hot objects, friction with a rotating wheel or fast-moving rope, or contact with an electrically charged object. In addition, one can experience chemical burns through corrosive chemicals such as alkalis or acids.
On the other hand, a scald is an injury caused by moist heat, such as steam, boiling water, tar, or hot oil. A burn and a scald have the same effects. The most common symptoms include skin reddening, skin or deeper tissue destruction, and blister formation. Most burns and scalds are sterile for a short period and should remain that way until the patient gets medical treatment.
In case of a significant burn, take the patient to a hospital immediately. The patient will likely need an aesthetic, so don’t give oral medication. If acid has caused the burns, flood the part thoroughly with water or use an alkaline solution made of two teaspoons of baking soda and one cup of warm water.
A stroke is perhaps the most severe and life-threatening medical emergency. It’s often caused by an insufficient supply of blood to the brain, which can be because of internal blood clots or bleeding in the brain. While the condition primarily affects older adults, that doesn’t make younger people immune to it.
Time is the most important thing for someone with or who has had a stroke. The sooner you receive medical attention, the more the chances of getting better. When you suspect a person has had a stroke, call 999 immediately for help. In case of a heat stroke, remove the patient from the heat immediately, get rid of excess clothing, and cool the person by placing them in a tub of cool water or shower.
While fractures can take time to heal on their own, the fact that many are accompanied by severe pain makes them a medical emergency. There are several types of fractures, such as stable, transverse, and complete fractures. Each fracture displays unique symptoms, but the most common ones are pain, swelling, deformity, tenderness, and a grinding sound around the affected area.
The first thing to do when someone gets a fracture is to ease the discomfort and pain before getting medical attention. A healthcare professional should determine a patient’s fracture and find a suitable treatment plan.
According to the World Health Organization, about one person in 10 experiences a seizure at least once in their life. Although seizures often occur in individuals with an epilepsy diagnosis, they can also affect people who don’t have such a condition.
A seizure may involve uncontrollable and involuntary jerking, twitching, and shaking of a body part or the entire body. Some forms of seizure may involve minimal or no body movement, and a person may appear to be looking to the sky. In such an incident, the person will often not respond if spoken to.
Unless they are in danger, you should not move or try to stop someone from shaking when they are experiencing a seizure. Instead, find medical help. If the person is known to have seizures, they will probably have a medical plan that shows the actions to be taken in case of a seizure.
However, it’s essential to contact 999 when a person loses consciousness, the seizure lasts more than five minutes, or if you are uncertain what to do or worried.
Regardless of your specialty, knowing how to handle common medical emergencies can be a life-saving skill that will make you a better healthcare professional. There are a lot of emergencies to learn about, but these are probably the most common and should establish a perfect place to start.