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You’ve been living inside your body for, well … your entire life.

As you’ve gotten older, you’ve developed a sixth sense about what your body tells you. You know when a cold is coming on, when your digestive system isn’t happy about something you’ve eaten and when you should probably skip another turn on the swing set.

You’ve learned to listen to that inner voice in your body. That’s an important skill.

And you should use that skill when you or a member of your family has an illness or injury and asks, “Should I go to the Emergency Department?”

Here are some examples from Charles Emerman, MD, chair of MetroHealth’s Department of Emergency Medicine, of when that inner voice should be telling you that something’s seriously wrong and that you need to visit the Emergency Department:

  • Any difficulty breathing.
  • A sudden severe headache, the absolute worst headache of your life.
  • Chest pain, heavy pressure in the chest, especially with nausea or shortness of breath.
  • A baby less than 3 months old with a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher.
  • A deep cut that won’t stop bleeding.
  • Abdominal pain that doubles you over and lasts for more than an hour.
  • Sudden difficulty speaking or understanding speech.
  • A broken bone.
  • Sudden weakness, numbness, clumsiness, fainting or loss of vision.
  • A head injury that causes loss of consciousness or vomiting.
  • Persistent and severe vomiting or diarrhea (more than six hours).
  • A serious burn that blisters or a deep burn that causes a loss of sensation.

Some people may try to fight that inner voice and say they don’t want to “be a burden” or “a bother” to anyone. Listen to your instinct. If something doesn’t feel right, if something seems more serious than the usual illness or injury, call 911 or rush to the closest Emergency Department.

A serious illness and injury doesn’t mean you have to head downtown. MetroHealth now offers our leading emergency care at four Emergency Departments in Cuyahoga County: