Almost 25% of all seniors have to visit the emergency room (ER) at some point. People often think of falls, strokes, or heart attacks as being the main reasons for why, but there are other common things that people may not think of immediately. It is important for both seniors and their caregivers to know what symptoms could be a sign that it is time to seek emergency care before it becomes more serious. Here are the ten most common reason for ER visits among seniors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in order from most to least frequent:
- Injuries and accidents. These could be the result of falls, car accidents, injuries, or even exhaustion.
- Heart disease. Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States, and its symptoms (such as chest pain and shortness of breath) are the second most common reason seniors end up at the ER.
- Chest pain. While chest pain can be a sign of heart disease, it can also be an indicator of other conditions, such as injuries, blood clots, heart attacks, respiratory infections, and even gastrointestinal problems.
- Adverse drug reactions or complications of medical treatment. Unexpected side effects to medications, inappropriate self-medication, and problematic drug interactions bring a surprising number of seniors in for emergency room care.
- Abdominal pain. This could be a sign of several things, such as infection, food poisoning, kidney stones, digestive disease, or even malnutrition or dehydration, among other things. It too, is responsible for many senior ER visits.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Fatigue, coughing, and shortness of breath are some of the symptoms associated with COPD, which is actually a combination of conditions, like bronchitis, emphysema, and chronic airway obstruction.
- Pneumonia. Pneumonia is surprisingly common among seniors, and can often be identified by shortness of breath, coughing, delirium, or confusion and can result in ER visits.
- Urinary Tract Infections. About 31% of seniors are chronically dehydrated, and this can lead to urinary tract infections, or UTIs.
- Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States, but if it is treated quickly, long-term damage can often be prevented.
- Back pain and spinal problems. Back pain can be caused by several different things: it could be the result of an injury to the back or neck, or a disorder in the vertebral discs, or it could even be the result of an inflammatory condition like arthritis.
Being aware of these symptoms and knowing how common these issues are in senior adults can help both seniors and their caregivers know better what to look for and when it is time to seek help at the ER.
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