Wounds happen to everyone from time to time. They range from minor cuts and scrapes to more significant injuries and are part of daily life. However, it’s not always easy to determine when your wound necessitates emergency care.
Many wounds can be treated at home with basic first aid; however, there are situations where a wound may require immediate medical attention — and it’s important to learn to recognize the difference.
Our team at Medical Associates Of North Texas is here to help. We specialize in acute care and wound care in Fort Worth, Texas. Here’s what you need to know about when a wound becomes a medical emergency.
Wounds from acute injuries
Acute injuries are sudden and can be traced to a specific incident or accident. If you suffer a wound from an acute injury, it could be a medical emergency if you have:
Mild wounds should stop bleeding on their own within 10-15 minutes. If a wound is causing severe bleeding that can’t be stopped, seek immediate medical attention. Apply pressure to the wound with a clean cloth or bandage and elevate the injured to help reduce blood loss, then seek emergency medical care.
Deep wounds or puncture wounds
Deep puncture wounds may not bleed, but they can carry a higher risk of infection than other types of injuries. If you have a deep wound from a sharp object, puncture, or animal bite, seek prompt medical care because these types of wounds may require proper cleaning, stitching, and tetanus vaccination.
Sometimes, accidents leave debris like glass or metal embedded in your wound. Attempting to remove the debris yourself may worsen the injury or cause further damage, so it’s important to get medical care as soon as possible so your wound can be properly cleaned.
Impaired function or loss of sensation
If a wound leaves you with impaired function or loss of sensation, it should be considered a medical emergency. Symptoms can range from numbness and tingling to the inability to move an affected limb. These symptoms can indicate nerve damage or other underlying issues that require immediate attention.
Infected slow-healing wounds
Another type of wound that can become a medical emergency is a slow-healing wound. Wounds that don’t heal properly are at risk of infection, and infection necessitates medical intervention. Look for:
Some redness and swelling are expected in the early stages of wound healing, but worsening symptoms may indicate an infection. Watch for increasing redness, swelling, and a feeling of warmth around the wound.
If a wound continues to hurt or the pain worsens over time, you could have an infection. A health care professional should assess pain not relieved by over-the-counter pain medications.
Pus or discharge
Pus or abnormal discharge is a common sign of infection. Pus is a thick, yellowish, or greenish fluid that indicates the body's immune response to combat infection. Sometimes, it can be foul-smelling.
In severe cases, an infected wound can lead to systemic symptoms. These may include fever, chills, increased heart rate, or feeling generally unwell. If you experience these symptoms alongside a wound, seeking immediate medical attention is essential.
Recognizing when a wound becomes a medical emergency is crucial for your well-being. But remember that if you’re in doubt, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Seek medical care anytime you’re worried about your health.
To learn more about wound care or to schedule an appointment, call us at 972-433-7178 or send us a message online now.