13 Reasons to Visit the Emergency Room for Infections
January 26, 2023
There is a fine line between common and detrimental infections. Common infections are easily treatable and harmless if identified early. However, if left untreated, these minor infections can worsen and develop into serious health conditions. In certain situations, patients may even face permanent harm or death as a result of inadequate or delayed medical attention.
In the event of an infection, it is recommended that you visit the Emergency Room (ER) promptly. The severity of the infection can be determined by assessing the level of pain and discomfort you are experiencing.
Numerous factors can result in severe infections, with poor hygiene and chronic medical conditions being the most frequent culprits.
Infections can be caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses. Regardless of the cause, it is essential to seek immediate treatment at a reputable medical emergency clinic.
Signs of Serious Infections
Listed below are the symptoms of a severe infection:
Blood-stained vomit, stool, or urine
Unusual redness or swelling of the skin
Shortness of breath
Excruciating abdominal pain
Persistent sore throat
Delayed healing of burns and cuts
Loss of appetite
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Examples of Serious Infections That Might Need a Visit to the ER
Certain infections require urgent attention, and patients must prioritize visiting the ER if they experience any of the aforementioned symptoms. These may include:
An ear infection transpires when a virus or bacteria invades the middle ear, leading to inflammation and discomfort. Without proper treatment, the infection may result in permanent hearing loss.
Minor ear infections typically do not require medical attention. However, if you have a severe infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat it.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract via the urethra. Common UTI symptoms include rectal pain, frequent urination, cloudy urine, and a burning sensation while urinating. Healthcare providers generally prescribe antibiotics for treatment.
Sinusitis occurs when fluid accumulates in the air-filled cavities in the face, providing a breeding ground for germs. Sinus infections can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or foreign substances lurking in these cavities. If the infection persists, antibiotics may be prescribed for treatment. In the case of chronic sinusitis, surgery may be necessary.
The 21st century has witnessed various significant epidemics, some of which qualify as pandemics. These include well-known diseases like cholera, plague, and yellow fever, as well as emerging diseases such as SARS, Ebola, Zika, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), HIV (technically endemic), influenza A (H1N1)pdm/09, and, most recently, COVID-19.
Many of these viruses have a severe impact on the lungs. In reality, tuberculosis (TB) remains the primary infectious disease caused by a single organism, contributing to 1.5 million fatalities in 2018.
Viral epidemics that predominantly impact the lungs or induce systemic immunosuppression can be diagnosed and treated early, but they necessitate an immediate visit to the ER.
Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach, small or large intestine. Acute gastroenteritis, on the other hand, is an infectious disease syndrome caused by a bacteria called Clostridium Difficile. It causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain and is usually over in less than 14 days.
Each year in the United States, there are over 350 million cases of acute gastroenteritis, of which foodborne bacteria are responsible for 48 million cases. Acute gastroenteritis affects more than half of individuals across developed and developing countries.
Clostridium Difficile is a bacteria commonly found in both adults and children, causing acute gastroenteritis. Reducing its prevalence requires public health education, contact precautions, and responsible antibiotic use. In the emergency room, supportive treatment for acute gastroenteritis focuses on preventing or treating dehydration, which can be easily administered and monitored.
Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus that affects the nose, throat, and lungs. The severity of the illness can range from mild to severe, and in rare cases, it can lead to death. The most effective method of preventing the flu is to receive a flu vaccine.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness that affects the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs, causing mild to severe illness. The flu symptoms often appear suddenly, and some or all of the following symptoms may occur:
Fever or feeling feverish/chills
Runny or stuffy nose
Muscle or body aches
While some people might have symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, children are more susceptible to influenza than adults. The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated.
According to experts, the flu virus typically spreads through tiny droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby, leading to infection. Additionally, the flu virus can also spread by coming in contact with surfaces or objects contaminated with the virus. If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is important to seek medical attention promptly.
Pneumonia is a respiratory infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs. The condition can cause the air sacs to fill with fluid or pus, leading to symptoms like coughing up phlegm or pus, fever, chills, and shortness of breath. Pneumonia can be caused by different types of organisms such as bacteria, viruses, or fungi.
Pneumonia can vary in severity from mild to life-threatening, and it poses a particular danger to infants, young children, people over 65 years of age, and individuals with underlying health conditions or weakened immune systems.
Sepsis is a critical medical condition that occurs when the body responds to an infection that has spread throughout the bloodstream by releasing large amounts of chemicals. This can lead to inflammation and organ damage, and is potentially life-threatening.
Sepsis is commonly triggered by bacterial infections, although it can also arise from viral infections (such as COVID-19 or influenza) or fungal infections.
Symptoms of sepsis include rapid breathing, fever, decreased urination, and chills. The condition can be treated using antibiotics and intravenous fluids.
Meningitis refers to the swelling of the protective membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, caused by either bacterial or viral infection of the cerebrospinal fluid.
Meningitis can have various causes such as injuries, cancer, certain drugs, and other infections in addition to bacterial or viral infections. Identifying the specific cause of meningitis is crucial because the treatment approach depends on the cause.
If you suspect someone is experiencing symptoms of meningitis, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. Early treatment can help prevent serious complications.
Pyelonephritis is a prevalent kidney disease that results from a bacterial infection, leading to kidney inflammation. This infection typically occurs when a urinary tract infection (UTI) in the bladder spreads to the kidneys and their collecting systems. Common symptoms of acute pyelonephritis include fever, flank pain, nausea, vomiting, burning sensation during urination, increased frequency, and urgency. Seeking medical attention is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment.
There are two classifications of acute pyelonephritis - simple and complicated. Those individuals who are pregnant, have uncontrolled diabetes, have undergone kidney transplants, have urinary anatomical abnormalities, acute or chronic kidney failure, are immunocompromised, or have acquired bacterial infections in the hospital are at a higher risk of developing complicated pyelonephritis.
Distinguishing between complicated and uncomplicated pyelonephritis is crucial since patient management and disposition depend on this differentiation.
Cellulitis is a bacterial skin infection that results in redness, swelling, and pain in the affected area. It is more prevalent in the feet and legs and might feel warm and tender when touched.
Infections may result in fever and chills, and if left untreated, can spread and cause severe health complications.
Although there is no vaccine to prevent cellulitis or group A strep infections, it can be prevented by following proper wound care and hygiene practices.
Osteomyelitis is a type of bone infection that typically originates in the bloodstream or spreads from nearby tissue. In addition, the infection can occur within the bone if it becomes injured and exposed to germs.
Individuals who smoke or have chronic health conditions, such as diabetes or kidney failure, have a higher risk of developing osteomyelitis.
Once considered incurable, osteomyelitis can now be treated effectively. Typically, surgery is required to remove any dead bone tissue, and potent intravenous antibiotics are often necessary post-surgery. However, treatment for this condition does require a visit to the emergency room.
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Sexual activity, such as vaginal, anal, and oral sex, can transmit over 30 different bacteria, viruses, and parasites. In addition, certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding. Fortunately, most of these infections are treatable.
When used correctly and consistently, condoms are one of the most effective methods of protection against STIs, including HIV. However, despite their effectiveness, condoms do not provide protection against STIs that cause extra-genital ulcers, such as syphilis or genital herpes.
While vaccines are available for two viral STIs (hepatitis B and HPV), it is still advisable to visit the emergency room in the event of any STI symptoms.
How Will Going to the ER Help?
Determining when to seek medical attention or go to the hospital can be challenging, particularly during the COVID era. Even if it is necessary, you may be hesitant to seek medical care.
Maintaining good health involves addressing health concerns as they arise. This may entail consulting with your primary care physician, potentially through telemedicine, or seeking care at an urgent care or emergency room (ER) as necessary.
When Should You Seek Urgent Care?
Numerous conditions can be promptly treated at urgent care facilities.
The following list includes some of the most common conditions treated at urgent care centers:
In addition to emergency care, health issues that are treated promptly typically have better outcomes than those that are addressed later. Postponing care can sometimes lead to irreversible damage. For instance, wounds that are not adequately tended to may become infected or necessitate more invasive procedures than they would have if treated promptly.
If symptoms worsen, an urgent trip to the emergency room is essential. These facilities are well-equipped to care for acutely ill patients. Physicians and nurses carefully monitor patients and employ state-of-the-art testing equipment, modern laboratories, and effective medications to facilitate a speedy recovery.
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