How to avoid the ER in your 20s
Landing in the emergency room at any age can be scary. But no matter how old you are, there are certain precautions and steps you can take to help you avoid a trip to the ER.
Individuals in their 20s are generally healthy people and may not visit the ER as frequently as some of their older counterparts. However, they are not immune to emergency situations, explains Jedidiah Ballard, DO, an emergency room physician and former Army Rangers Battalion Surgeon.
Life choices, says Dr. Ballard, are the most common cause of a 20-something visiting his emergency room.
COVID-19 and other common causes
“The vast majority of what we see in the ER among those in their 20s comes down to the unfortunate pairing of bad luck with a bad choice,” Dr. Ballard says, citing excess alcohol as a leading factor.
Alcohol is the number one drug associated with traumas like car wrecks, snake bites, fights, stabbings, and gunshot wounds, explains Dr. Ballard. Accidental drug overdose is also a frequent cause of death among those in their 20s.
Other common issues that bring young people into the ER include STD checks or concerns about a possible pregnancy. However, nowadays, other causes are bringing 20-somethings in as well.
“Recently, the number one thing I am seeing is the unvaccinated in this age group presenting positive for COVID,” says Dr. Ballard.
In order to prevent a visit to the ER, Dr. Ballard suggests that 20-somethings get vaccinated, avoid drinking and driving, use condoms to protect from STDs and unwanted pregnancies, abstain from drugs, and stay away from significantly risky activities in general.
Additionally, though it is rare, Dr. Ballard says that people in their 20s are still at risk for heart attacks, blood clots in the lungs, and bleeding into their brain without any trauma.
Dr. Ballard says you should definitely head to the ER if “you cut yourself and can’t get the bleeding to stop, anytime you are having the sensation of being short of breath, having a crushing-type chest pain that won’t go away, or rapid onset headache that is severe and unlike any you’d had before.”
“Your primary care physician can also be a great resource on when to go to the ER,” says Dr. Ballard. “Simply call their office and let them know what you are experiencing and ask them if they think you need to go to the ER.”
Over the years, Dr. Ballard has seen his fair share of rare or unusual issues in his ER. Recently, a young male patient presented who had scratches all over his face. The man had tried to reach into a trash can to remove a scared raccoon, leading to his injuries.
While some reasons to visit the ER are less likely than others, people of all ages should remain vigilant and try to take the necessary health and safety precautions to keep themselves safe and healthy.