Recognizing Medical Emergencies
Fast Action Can Save Lives. Transcript of radio broadcast:
04 October 2006
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This is the VOA Special English Health Report.
Medical emergencies are not always easy to recognize. Yet any delay
in emergency treatment could mean the difference between life and
death or permanent disability.
The American College of Emergency Physicians is a professional group
for doctors who work in hospital emergency departments. It says
everyone should know the warning signs of a medical emergency.
One is a sudden or severe pain that does not go away. This includes pain in the stomach,
chest or head. A severe headache, worse than anything you have ever felt, could mean
bleeding in the head from a broken artery.
Severe stomach pain could be a sign of appendicitis. Severe chest or back pain could signal a
Another warning sign of a medical emergency is difficulty breathing. This could mean a
heart condition. Or there could be a hole or blockage in a lung.
Mental changes are also warning signs. A person who suddenly loses memory or thinking
abilities could be suffering a stroke or serious infection.
Sudden changes in speech or not being able to see clearly are two other reasons to seek
emergency care. Other warning signs include losing consciousness or becoming dizzy and
Uncontrolled bleeding from any wound also calls for professional care. So does coughing or
The American College of Emergency Physicians notes that children can show different signs
of medical problems than adults. A child might be too young to describe the problem. Yet
symptoms that are not as serious for an adult may be more serious for a child.
There is also advice about what to do if you ever need care at an emergency department. One
suggestion is to bring a list of any medicines you take and any allergies you have. Are you
allergic to any foods or insects? Do you get a bad reaction to any medications or other
products? The doctors group offers medical history forms on its Web site, acep.org.
Also, you should know your history of vaccines or the immunizations a child has had against
diseases. And, the doctors say, remain clam. That can help increase communication with
doctors and nurses at the hospital.
And that's the VOA Special English Health Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. You can
find other health information and advice at voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Steve Ember.