Four Most Common Reasons for ER Visits

Every year, millions of people go to the emergency room for a variety of reasons. An ER visit can be scary, but if you are prepared, you’ll feel more in control when you get there. Part of being prepared for ER visits involves knowing the most common reasons people go. This can help you determine whether you need to go to the emergency room and what treatments to expect once you arrive.

Heart Attacks

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it kills more than 500,000 people every year. Thus, a heart attack is one of the most common reasons to visit the emergency room. In fact, doctors urge patients to visit the ER if they even suspect they are having a heart attack. Classic symptoms like chest pains are common, but you should be aware of other symptoms, as well. These include burning or pressure in the chest, shortness of breath, and nausea. In some cases, unusual arm pain may signal a heart attack is coming.

Abdominal Pain

Abdominal pain can be a nonspecific symptom, but it’s also one of the leading causes of ER visits. Persistent, severe abdominal pain might be a sign of anything from food poisoning to appendicitis. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have digestive health problems, because there is a link to abdominal pain. Determine whether your pain is localized to a specific area. Localizing the pain can help your doctor rule out certain conditions and get you the right treatment faster.

Sprains and Broken Bones

This is probably the most common reason for an ER visit. Anything can cause a broken bone or sprain – a fall, a sports injury, simply moving your body the wrong way while performing an everyday task. A sprain may not need emergency care; your doctor may refer you to a clinic or urgent care facility, which normally has X-ray machines and other equipment used to treat your symptoms. For a broken bone, you need to go to an ER to set and monitor the bone.


Headaches are common and often nonspecific. However, millions of Americans suffer from severe tension, cluster, or migraine headaches that result in ER visits. In fact, some migraines cause symptoms like vision and coordination loss, even hemiplegia. Go to the ER if you have severe symptoms or if a fever or stiff neck accompanies your headache. Tell your doctor about your headache history.

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