Common Reasons for Trips to the ER

The emergency room looks and sounds like a scary place. Most of us have watched at least one drama that revolves around a group of doctors in the ER who treat patients with open wounds and traumatic injuries.

While doctors in ER are faced with these types of serious injuries, it’s not all blood and guts. The dramas that you see on TV don’t fully reflect a typical day in the emergency department.

Emergency services are dedicated to saving people’s lives, but this doesn’t always involve helping people after a major fall or car accident. Sometimes it can involve diagnosing hidden illnesses or administering medications to help patients manage their acute symptoms.

Millions of people visit the ER department at their local hospital every year, and the majority of these cases are very similar. There are several common conditions and illnesses that are the reason for people’s trips to the ER.

Some of these conditions are non-life-threatening but patients don’t know where else to go, so they head to the ER to seek medical help.

Often, family members will bring their children or elderly parents to the hospital out of fear. They want the help of specialized doctors who can quickly identify the issue and provide the necessary treatments.

Here are the most common reasons for trips to the ER.

Chest Pains

This first one is a common occurrence in medical dramas. A patient who turns up to the ER will experience severe pains in their chest and suddenly fall to the ground, barely able to breathe.

In reality, chest pains can range from mild to severe, and most of the time, they don’t cause you to collapse on the floor. However, if somebody is experiencing ongoing chest pain, they’re right to take a trip to the ER.

Many patients describe tightness or a burning sensation in their chest that is associated with shortness of breath or excessive sweating.

Chest pains can be a symptom of heart attack or angina, and they are a good indicator that there is something wrong with the body. They can be a common symptom of a range of health conditions, and it’s important to get things checked out.

Heart attacks are more common in older adults because the heart and blood vessels become less efficient over time. For this reason, many older people choose to carry around a medical alert system that can connect them directly to emergency services if they are getting severe chest pains.

Fractures and Sprains

Bones can get fractured or sprained at any time in your life, even if you are healthy and young. You might be involved in an unexpected workplace accident or take a fall down the stairs at home. Trauma and strain on the bones, ligaments, and tendons can result in a trip to the ER.

Minor sprains often don’t warrant a trip to the hospital. Some sprains will heal on their own over time. However, it’s essential to head to the ER if you suspect you’ve damaged one of your bones.

Doctors in the emergency department will have specialized scanning equipment that can take x-rays of your bones to identify any fractures or breakages. If a fracture or sprain is found, you will be given a cast, which helps to keep the bones in place as they heal.


While toothaches are usually something for the dentist to investigate, many people choose to go straight to the ER department when they’re getting pains in their teeth. Dentists tend only to be open during regular work hours, so if you’re getting serious toothache outside of these hours, the ER is your best option.

Patients can present to the ER with tooth abscesses, inflamed gums, or jaw pain. Most of the time, the best that ER doctors can do is provide strong pain killers that will numb the pain until the patient can see the dentist.

Abdominal Pain

There are several reasons why somebody might experience abdominal pain. You might get stomach pains because you’ve eaten food that hadn’t been cooked properly, or it could be due to something more serious, like kidney stones, aneurysm, or infection.

Whether your pains are caused by something benign or dangerous, getting checked out in the ER department is necessary to rule out any serious health concerns. Doctors can take scans of the abdominal region and take blood samples to check for anything that shouldn’t be there.


Headaches are one of the most common reasons why people go to the ER. Although headaches are often caused by something as simple as dehydration or menstruation in women, they can be concerning if they are ongoing.

It’s always a good idea to get medical attention if you are experiencing an unusually high number of headaches. Getting professional help is especially if these headaches are very painful or if they are accompanied by additional symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting.

Pain in the head and upper neck might be a sign of something more serious. The sudden onset of severe headaches can be a symptom of brain hemorrhages or brain tumors.

In the ER department, doctors will take scans of the head to check for the presence of blood or tumors. If necessary, they can refer the patient to a specialist doctor, such as a neurologist, to get an accurate diagnosis.

Back Pain

You might find that your back is aching after a day of being on your feet for several hours. But if you’re experiencing ongoing back pain that doesn’t seem to disappear, no matter how much you rest, it could be worth a trip to the ER.

Back pain is an increasingly common reason for ER trips. Many people are desperate for some pain relief, and going to the emergency room is the quickest and easiest option.

Although back pain will often go away on its own, it’s important to rule out deeper issues. It might be a symptom of a slipped disc or spinal deterioration. Getting a diagnosis and receiving treatment as quickly as possible is vital to preventing the condition from getting any worse.