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Red Flags for Seeking Immediate Medical Attention

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Serious medical emergencies don’t always reveal themselves in obvious ways. Just because blood isn’t shed, bone isn’t visible, and consciousness isn’t lost doesn’t mean an illness or injury is minor. Sometimes what seems like a nasty cold or chronic pain is, in fact, something worse.

Not that we wish to cause panic and incite hypochondria among readers. It’s simply a matter of identifying red flags pointing to something serious when more obvious signs are not present.

Here are some examples:

Injury-Induced Insomnia


The true extent of damage resulting from an injury suffered during the day often doesn’t reveal itself until the person attempts to go to bed later that night. The pain increases to the point where falling asleep or staying asleep is impossible. Take this testimonial provided by a Queens construction accident attorneys client who tried the sleeping it off technique after having a hand smashed on the job site earlier in the day. He found the pain so severe that falling asleep was impossible. Wisely, this client took it as a sign to visit the emergency room before it was too late. Similarly, those unable to sleep due to severe pain must take a similar cue and seek immediate medical attention.

Unprecedented Pain

Another pain-related red flag is an inability to recall a previous ailment which caused as much agony. In the event of unprecedented pain, it’s often a sign of something serious. By the time we reach adulthood, it’s expected to have experienced a spectrum of aches and pains ranging from sore throats to sore muscles, and thus we each have our own understanding of degrees of pain. Anything outside this range is worthy of immediate medical attention. For example, appendicitis tends to cause stomach pain on a level above and beyond the “tummy aches” of youth.

Unusual Symptoms

Similar to unprecedented pain, unprecedented symptoms are a red flag for arranging a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible. Maybe it’s increased tremors or chronic exhaustion. Whatever the exceptional symptom, a red flag is when such a symptom is recurrent and stubbornly present. This is the time to have a doctor take a look, rather than waiting for symptoms to get worse.

Who’s at risk?

Not everyone is determined to ride it out rather than seek medical attention right away. However, at the risk of generalizing certain demographics, there are parts of the population which tend to be at greater risk of avoiding examination and treatment until it’s too late:

“Tough Guys” (and Gals)

As mentioned earlier, those employed in heavy duty labor-intensive jobs tend to prefer the wait and see approach to dealing with injury. These tough guys mean well – it’s often a result of not wanting to be the weak link on the job site or lose pay – but their stubbornness can oftentimes lead to their undoing. More times than not, seeking medical attention at the beginning will prevent worse issues down the road as well as help to ensure compensation is received if liability falls on an employer or other entity.


The elderly are inherently more likely to experience illness or injury. However, many seniors – particularly those living alone in the wake of a spouse’s death – look the other way when symptoms of something serious start to appear. They will often conceal the problem from concerned loved ones. Be sensitive to the happenings of an elderly relative, as they may be determined to avoid the issue without outside intervention.


It’s unfortunately too often the case that folks don’t get the medical attention they need because of cost issues. If it comes down to affording groceries for the family or visiting the doctor for a nagging pain, most folks will choose their children’s well-being over their own. However, these parents need to step back and evaluate the bigger picture; if the illness or ailment will only get worse without treatment, this means it will only further inhibit their ability to provide for the family.


Lastly, and not surprisingly, those without health insurance are certain to do everything short of visit the emergency room when feeling especially sick. While the ACA in the US and single payer systems across the world have greatly reduced the number of people without access to healthcare, millions of people remain uninsured and consequently hesitate to get the treatment they need.

Signs it’s time to go to the ER, urgent care, or doctor aren’t always apparent. Often they lie just below the surface. This makes it difficult for those with a tendency to avoid medical treatment in the first place. However, failure to do so is likely to only make matters worse.