It’s understandable to hesitate going to the emergency room if you’re having a non–COVID-19 medical crisis for fear of contracting the infection. However, ignoring certain symptoms can be more dangerous to your health than the risk of infection. In a CDC report released in June 2020, the authors found that visits to U.S. emergency departments declined 42 percent in the early weeks of the pandemic (March 29 to April 25), compared to the same period the prior year. The agency noted that a decline in visits for serious conditions could result in complications or even death.
Go to the ER or call 911 if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
- Difficulty speaking or understanding
- Sudden face drooping
- Chest or upper-abdominal pressure or pain
- Sudden, unexplained pain in the jaw, shoulder, or arm
- Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Unexplained confusion, lethargy, or unconsciousness
- Any sudden or severe pain or headache
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Severe or persistent vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
A version of this article appeared in the July 2020 issue of UC Berkeley Health After 50.
Also see Is It a Heart Attack?