Health and Lifestyle for the over 50s

Surviving Medical Emergencies When You’re Alone

Posted by The Best of Health
Categories: Health and Wellbeing /

surviving-medical-emergencies-128950109Medical emergencies can happen at any time, and it’s important to know how to help yourself when they do. Injuries and urgent health problems may strike when you’re alone with no one to help you . In these cases, there are most often ways you can minimise the damage and even save your own life. Getting to grips with some essential survival tips so that you know what to do in a crisis, is something everyone should take the time to do.

Heart Problems
If you begin to feel severe chest pains, with a squeezing or crushing sensation, you must call an ambulance immediately. While you wait for it to arrive, you should chew an aspirin tablet then swallow. Aspirin will help to thin the blood and slow down its clotting mechanism, reducing the risk of a heart attack, and chewing it will allow it to work faster than swallowing it whole.

If you have previously been diagnosed with angina, you may have a nitroglycerin spray, which should be administered under the tongue at this point. The spray widens the blood vessels, allowing the blood to flow more easily, which reduces the heart’s workload.

While waiting for the ambulance, try to take deep breaths. This will help get oxygen into the lungs more efficiently and keep the blood circulating normally. If you have been diagnosed with a tachycardia syndrome (an abnormally high heart rate), you may also find it helpful to perform the Valsalva manoeuvre. This involves pinching the nose and closing the mouth, then trying to blow out – similar to what you might do when trying to unblock your ears on a flight. The action can help to slow down the heart rate, reducing symptoms. This should only be tried once.

Choking
If your airway becomes blocked by something lodged in your throat, your body will naturally respond by trying to cough it out. Coughing as vigorously as you can, while bending over with your head down, will often work.

If coughing alone isn’t displacing the object, you can perform part of the Heimlich manoeuvre on yourself – applying pressure to your abdomen, which can help to force the object upwards and out of your throat. You can do this by making a fist and pushing it into your abdomen in short, sharp thrusts, or by leaning over a sturdy chair and thrusting your belly against the top edge in short, sharp motions. After using either of these techniques, be sure to seek medical attention to check whether any internal damage was caused.

Bleeding
Minor cuts and grazes can happen frequently, but in the case of a more serious wound, you may start to lose a lot of blood quickly. Bleeding excessively is dangerous and it’s important to act fast before there’s enough blood loss to make you lose consciousness.

Firstly, elevate the injured area to at least the level of the heart in order to reduce the flow of blood to the wound. Remove or cut any clothing from around the wound and apply firm pressure to it with a clean towel or cloth, keeping the area elevated.

Do not try to apply a tourniquet as this can cause permanent damage if done incorrectly. You should also never try to remove anything that is embedded in the wound because doing so could make the bleeding worse. Simply keep applying pressure to the wound and do your best to keep it clean until you are with a medical professional who can treat it properly.

Severed Finger
Sometimes serious accidents happen to those using sharp tools or kitchen knives, causing a finger to be severed. When this happens, the first thing you need to do is minimise the bleeding. Elevating your hand above your head will help to stem the flow of blood to the site, then you should apply pressure using a clean towel or cloth.

If possible, take codeine to help you cope with the pain in the time it takes you to get to the hospital. Before you do go to the hospital, find the severed finger or tip and rinse it carefully with water to remove bacteria. People often assume that the finger should be put directly on ice, and the coolness does help to delay tissue death, but you should make sure to wrap it loosely in a paper towel before putting it in a bag of ice. The paper towel will help to reduce the damage to the skin and cells that the ice could cause.

Try to take note of the time the injury happened so you can inform the hospital. Fingers should ideally be reattached within six hours, so surgeons need to know how quickly they must act.

Insect Stings In The Mouth
Insect stings are common but can become more of a serious problem when they occur in the mouth or throat. This is most likely to happen when drinking outside, as insects can make their way into open bottles or cans without you noticing.

If a sting in the mouth causes your tongue or throat to swell up, this will restrict the airways and make it difficult to breath. You may also have a life-threatening allergic reaction to the sting, so it’s important to seek emergency medical attention. While you wait for it to arrive, you should suck on ice cubes or an ice lolly to reduce the swelling and numb the pain.

The average ambulance response time is eight minutes, but in many situations patients require help sooner than the medical professionals can get to them. Learning a few crucial tips will make you feel less helpless in medical emergencies, allowing you to do more than simply call an ambulance and wait.

If you are concerned about the possibility of medical emergencies when you are on holiday, you might like to read our article by following this link.

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Posted by The Best of Health

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