• When Does a Headache Need to Be Treated in the ER?

    In many cases, a headache does not require emergency care, although a patient may seek relief of symptoms from a primary headache , such as a tension-type, migraine, or cluster headache. However, secondary headaches are caused by underlying conditions and some of these conditions may be serious or life-threatening. To assess whether a headache might require emergency care at West Hills Hospital, you could evaluate the co-existing symptoms.

    Headache with Fever

    Primary headaches are not typically associated with fever. However, a headache and a fever may develop in response to a systemic infection, which might require emergency care. At the ER, the emergency care team may perform computed tomography (CT) imaging and a lumbar puncture with opening pressure to determine if the headache might be caused by a subarachnoid hemorrhage, which refers to bleeding between the brain and the thin tissue covering it.

    Thunderclap Headache

    A thunderclap headache involves excruciating pain that develops rapidly. This symptom should be evaluated by an emergency care doctor. Some of the possible causes of thunderclap headaches can include stroke, carotid or vertebral arterial dissection, hypertensive encephalopathy, intracranial hypotension, and cerebral vasculitis.

    Headache with Other Neurological Deficits

    Many stroke survivors describe suffering the worst headache of their lives when the stroke occurred. Certain neurological deficits, with or without a severe headache, require emergency medical assistance. Patients should call 911 when stroke symptoms occur, such as sudden confusion, vision loss, slurred speech, trouble understanding speech, and sudden weakness, numbness, or tingling on one side of the body.

    Headache After Head Trauma

    Another reason why a headache might warrant emergency care is if it occurs after physical trauma to the head. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when the brain moves inside the skull. As the brain is forced against the interior of the skull, it can sustain significant damage. Some of the other possible symptoms of head trauma may include confusion, disorientation, and loss of consciousness.

    The highly trained emergency care team at West Hills Hospital is always available to provide rapid evaluation and treatment to patients with medical emergencies. Please call 911 if you think you may be having a stroke or other medical emergency. For non-emergent concerns, you may call (818) 676-4321 to speak with a registered nurse at our community hospital.

  • Spotting the Early Symptoms of the Flu

    The flu is more serious than you might think. While many people experience only mild to moderate symptoms, others suffer from severe flu symptoms and may develop life-threatening complications that require emergency care. The symptoms of influenza tend to develop suddenly. If you experience them, it’s wise to stay home and take care of yourself to avoid spreading germs to others. Consider visiting the emergency care department at West Hills Hospital if you suffer from severe symptoms or if you’re at a high risk of flu-related complications.

    Influenza Symptoms

    Some of the most common symptoms of the flu are chills, sweats, and fatigue. The flu tends to cause a fever over 102 degrees Fahrenheit; however, not everyone who contracts the flu will have a fever. Muscle aches are also common, particularly in the arms, legs, and back. Patients may experience cough, headache, loss of appetite, and nasal congestion. Nausea and vomiting may occur, although children are more likely than adults to experience gastrointestinal symptoms.

    Emergency Symptoms in Children

    If the patient is a child, it’s especially important to closely monitor him or her for indications that emergency care is needed. Emergency symptoms in children include earache, drainage from the ear, bluish skin color, difficult or rapid breathing, wheezing, changes in mental state, and abdominal pain. Children also require emergency care if they may be dehydrated, have a fever above 103 degrees , have a fever that persists longer than three days, recover from symptoms but then become ill again, or experience worsening of a chronic medical condition.

    Emergency Symptoms in Adults

    In adults, worsening of a chronic condition also indicates a need for emergency care. Other emergency symptoms in adults can include persistent vomiting, fainting, confusion, chest pain, shortness of breath, and severe sinus pain. A high, persistent fever and symptoms that improve, but then recur are other possible indications of medical emergencies.

    If you or your child requires emergency care for the flu and its complications, you can trust the team at West Hills Hospital to provide rapid care. Our emergency care services are available 24/7 in our newly renovated and expanded ER. If you have a medical emergency in the West Hills area, please do not hesitate to call 911 now. Otherwise, call our hospital at (818) 676-4321.

  • Reasons to Choose the ER Over Urgent Care

    Although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there are significant differences between emergency care and urgent care. Urgent care clinics, which are typically freestanding, do provide important healthcare services within communities such as West Hills. However, they aren’t equipped to save lives like ERs are. If you have a serious or life-threatening medical emergency, the ER at West Hills Hospital can provide rapid intervention.

    Understanding the Differences Between Urgent and Emergency Care

    Urgent care centers primarily treat patients with medical conditions that cannot wait for an appointment with a primary care physician. For example, patients may go to an urgent care clinic for minor lacerations and mild respiratory infections. However, emergency care is required for serious conditions such as anaphylaxis, stroke, heart attack, and major fractures. Another main difference between these two facilities is that emergency rooms are staffed by specially trained emergency medicine physicians, nurses, and other providers. This means that going to an ER for a medical emergency instead of an urgent care center ensures that patients will receive the care they need. Furthermore, ERs have greater capabilities and are better equipped than urgent care clinics. While some urgent care clinics have on-site X-rays and basic lab services, ERs have all the resources of the hospital at their disposal.

    Identifying Common Medical Emergencies

    If you aren’t sure whether you’re experiencing a true medical emergency, it’s wise to err on the side of caution and call your doctor for guidance, call 911, or go to the nearest emergency room. The symptoms of medical emergencies often develop suddenly . With a severe allergic reaction or asthma attack, a patient may have trouble breathing. A stroke causes sudden neurological impairments, such as abrupt numbness and weakness on one side of the body, sudden vision loss, and sudden confusion. Other symptoms of common medical emergencies include loss of consciousness, persistent or severe bleeding, and seizures.

    Exceptional emergency care is just one of the many healthcare services you’ll find at West Hills Hospital. Our community hospital is pleased to serve our neighbors in the West Hills area with comprehensive cancer care, maternity care, and spine health services—just to name a few. If you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 right away. For non-emergent information, you can speak with a registered nurse by calling (818) 676-4321.

  • Managing Stress in the Holiday Season

    For many families, the holiday season conjures up images of family get-togethers, delicious meals, and excited children eager to unwrap their gifts. Unfortunately, the season can also be stressful, given the usual obligations to travel, shop, and bake treats. Chronic or severe stress can lead to a number of unhealthy consequences. For patients who already have chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, it’s particularly important to keep stress under control. Consider visiting your local hospital to speak with a physician about chronic stress and related issues such as anxiety disorder and depression. For residents of the West Hills area, West Hills Hospital is your partner in wellness.

    Limit Your Commitments

    One common source of holiday stress is overscheduling. Take a close look at your schedule and decide which commitments you can reasonably expect to fulfill. You can politely decline invitations to holiday parties that conflict with your schedule. Consider making other holiday-related tasks more manageable, such as shopping online instead of navigating crowded stores and baking simple mini loaves of quick bread to give as gifts instead of filling holiday tins with multiple types of cookies.

    Exercise Regularly

    Chronic stress is characterized by high levels of cortisol—the so-called “stress hormone.” In response to stress, the adrenal glands release more cortisol. Since exercise is a temporary deviation from homeostasis, the body interprets it as a stressor. However, when you exercise regularly, your body will train itself to have a better response to stress , including reducing cortisol levels.

    Embrace Your Creativity

    In addition to commonsense strategies, try embracing whimsy. Laughing reduces your cortisol levels and triggers the release of endorphins. These hormonal changes naturally relieve the effects of stress on your body. Consider looking for a laughter yoga group near you. Or, spend a few minutes watching funny videos online. If work is stressing you out, stash a few deflated balloons in your desk drawer. When anxiety develops, blow up a balloon. You’ll get the benefits of deep breathing, a diversion from the source of your stress, and probably a few chuckles from your co-workers.

    At West Hills Hospital , we’re committed to improving the quality of life for our neighbors throughout West Hills by providing comprehensive preventive wellness services. At our community hospital, you’ll also find prompt emergency care, compassionate cancer care, and family-centered maternity health services. You can reach out to our Consult-A-Nurse line by calling (818) 676-4321.