A Potentially Urgent
Medical Need

A Potentially Urgent Medical Need: Overview

Emergency medicine can be life-saving.  Even if you have some philosophical, religious or financial objection to doing this, it is in your best interest to take action unless you are very sure of what is causing the significant symptoms you have reported or you have already seen a qualified doctor recently regarding them.

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Signs, symptoms & indicators of A Potentially Urgent Medical Need:

Symptoms - Abdomen

Significant/severe abdominal pain

Severe acute or prolonged abdominal pain is a possible symptom of many serious conditions.  You are advised to seek medical attention as soon as possible, unless you already know the cause of the pain.

Symptoms - Bowel Movements

(Slightly/very) black/tarry stools

Blood, as seen in the stool, can originate anywhere along the intestinal tract.  A black stool (called melena) usually means that the blood is coming from the upper part of the tract.  At least 4 Tablespoons (60ml) of blood must have been lost in order to make the stool black.  Maroon-colored stools suggest that the blood is coming from the middle portion of the intestinal tract, and bright red from the large bowel or rectum.  If stools change color suddenly, it can be evidence of internal bleeding which requires immediate medical attention.

The ingestion of black licorice, Pepto-Bismol, or blueberries can all cause black stools or false melena.  Stools should be tested for the presence of hidden blood.

Frequent/significant red blood in stools

Significant bleeding from anywhere in the body requires immediate medical attention.  Small amounts of red blood, especially on the toilet tissue, are most likely from hemorrhoids.

Symptoms - Head - Eyes/Ocular

Pain in both eyes or pain in one eye

Severe eye pain should be investigated aggressively to prevent the possible consequence of blindness.

Symptoms - Mind - Emotional

Symptoms - Respiratory

Chest pain when breathing

The sensation of a "catch" at the end of a deep breath is clinically important as a symptom of pulmonary embolism (a clot to the lung).  This requires immediate evaluation by a physician.

Symptoms - Skeletal

Significant/severe neck pain

Severe neck pain can indicate a potentially life-threatening condition, such as meningitis, encephalitis or a subarachnoid hemorrhage.

(Severe) stiff neck

A very stiff neck can indicate a potentially life-threatening condition, such as meningitis, encephalitis or a subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Conditions that suggest A Potentially Urgent Medical Need:

Infections

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Risk factors for A Potentially Urgent Medical Need:

Personal Background

Counter-indicators

Recommendations for A Potentially Urgent Medical Need:

Action

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Health problems rarely occur in isolation or for obvious reasons

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KEY

Strong or generally accepted link: is often a sign or symptom of
Strong or generally accepted link:
is often a sign or symptom of
Definite or direct link: is a sign or symptom of; strongly suggests
Definite or direct link:
is a sign or symptom of; strongly suggests
Strong counter-indication: often decreases risk of
Strong counter-indication:
often decreases risk of
Very useful: is highly recommended for
Very useful:
is highly recommended for