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5 health warning signs you should not ignore

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ATLANTA -

It's an ordeal most of us will one day face. We're going to have a medical emergency that lands us in the emergency room. But would you know the warning signs?

When you're in real pain, it's hard to think clearly and know what to do. Dr. Anthony Ferrara says there are five signs you should not ignore, and get help right away.

"One is, for an adult patient, chest pain. Any chest pain, go to the emergency room and get seen," said Ferrara.

Chest pain can be a sign of a heart attack. Another important red flag is a major neurological change.

"Having trouble with your speech, your face is droopy.  Trouble blinking, trouble talking, or you cannot move a limb, or an arm, you feel weakness and numbness," described Ferrara.

Those are signs of stroke. So is a third warning sign: a severe headache that feels like the worst you've ever had.

"Even people that have migraines and get headaches once a month, if it's a headache that's totally different than what you're used to, that's an emergency. You need to go to the emergency room," said Ferrara.

The fourth sign you shouldn't ignore is if you are struggling to breathe.

"It's not normal to have trouble breathing.  Any form, either you're standing there, or climbing the stairs, or laying down and you're feeling short of breath, or even while you're talking, feeling short of breath."

The last sign is severe abdominal pain.

"Anywhere from the chest on down to the pelvis, just pain that is just not going away. And that can be a whole host of things, but again, the sooner it's diagnosed the better it is for long term," said Ferrara.

But what if you get to the emergency room and it turns out to be nothing? Ferrara says don't sweat it, that's a good thing!
 
"You're happy, I'm happy, everybody is happy.  Don't worry about it.  That's what we want to find," said Ferrara.

The American College of Emergency Physicians recommends taking your cellphone and plug in the word "ICE" or "I-C-E." It stands for "in case of emergency." Then plug in your spouse or parent's name and number. Emergency room professionals know to look for that. So, if you arrive at the ER unconscious, they can look at your phone and find your family right away.

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