“I think I need to go to the ER.” If you are a man you have probably said those words or thought them at least once in your life. As the dog-days of summer are here visits to the ER are fast and furious. The summer months of May-September are usually the busiest times of the year at most ERs. Everything from, “I almost sawed my finger off ” to “ I was cutting the grass and got chest pains;” are phrases that almost any ER doctor will hear more times in the summer that almost any other time of year.
We sat down with a busy ER doctor and talked about some of the most important symptoms men need to pay attention to. These are the top 5 complaints he hears from men everyday, in no particular order.
Men are more than twice as likely as women to come to the ER for some kind of injury. One of the most common is trauma due to physical assault. In other words we go out and get in more fights than women. No kidding! Facial trauma and arm trauma are the most common. If you have any of the following signs or symptoms you definitely need to get yourself to the ER.
– Bruising behind your ears – concerning for skull fracture
– One or both of your eyes feel stuck or can’t move – concerning for eye fracture
– Your teeth don’t fit together right – concerning for jaw fracture
– You can’t move your arm – concerning for dislocation
– You can’t make a fist – concerning for hand fracture
2. Genital Pain (penis and/or scrotum)
It is amazing how many of us would rather take a punch to the face than go to the ER and admit that there is something wrong with our groin area. It is important to pay attention to your genitals because if left untreated, problems could lead to long-term problems from sterility to cancer. The following problems indicate you may need to get to the ER.
– Painful, swollen, blue or purple testicle – may be a sign of testicular torsion (a twisted nut) and needs to be seen right away because of the risk of testicular death
– Painful urination (it hurts to pee) – may be a sign of sexually transmitted disease (STD) like chlamydia or gonorrhea which need antibiotics for treatment
– New lumps or bumps on your penis or scrotum – concerning for potential cancers (skin or testicle), especially if there is no pain with the new lump
– Painful, swollen, deformed penis after sex – concerning for fractured penis, yes apparently this happens, and you need surgical repair
3. Chest Pain
This is by far the most common complaint that comes into the ER for men or women. It is also one of the most difficult to figure out. There are so many things in the chest from heart to lungs to stomach to nerves and muscles that all chest pains are not created equal. The following are some symptoms that you need to pay special attention to.
– Chest pain with exercise – concerning for potential heart blockage and heart attack
– Chest pain with deep breathing – concerning for potential blood clot in the lung
– Chest pain just under the right, lower ribs – concerning for gallbladder blockage or infection
Headaches can be caused from all sorts of things from emotional stress, to caffeine withdraw, to infection to bleeding. Not to mention any wife or girlfriend issues that come along…everyday. If any of the following headaches develop you need to get your ass to the ER.
– Sudden onset like a thunderclap – concerning for ruptured aneurysm and internal brain bleeding
– Headache with fever, stiff neck, altered mental state – concerning for meningitis, a bacterial infection in the brain
5. Abdominal Pain
Next to chest pain this is the most common complaint that guys come to the hospital with. There are so many organs in the abdomen that this is like a black-box trying to figure out what’s going on in there. Everything from constipation to appendicitis could be the cause of your pain. Here are some things to look out for.
– General pain with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea – concerning for gastroenteritis or a “stomach-flu”
– Pain around the belly-button that moves to the right lower part of your abdomen – concerning for appendicitis (a surgical emergency)
– Pain under you right ribs, worse after eating – concerning for gallbladder blockage or infection
Alright fellas, there it is. If you or a buddy develop any of these signs or symptoms you need to get medical attention or get to the closest ER right away.