Major health issues that require emergency medicine can present with different symptoms than the ones we might expect. Here, medical experts share some not-so-obvious medical emergencies including critical illness and food allergies symptoms that shouldn’t be ignored, even if they seem normal.
#1 Food allergies symptoms and food intolerances
According to consultant gastroenterologist DR ANDREA RAJNAKOVA, the mechanisms involved in food intolerance and allergies are different. In the latter, the immune system recognises a food creating a possible danger or critical illness and subsequently produces chemicals that could cause different food allergies symptoms including breathing problems, throat tightness, coughing, vomiting, abdominal pain, hives, swelling, a drop in blood pressure and even a life-threatening reaction like anaphylactic shock.
On the other hand, the responses from food intolerances like lactose and fructose intolerance are usually not life-threatening. Common symptoms are intestinal discomfort, bloating, gas, diarrhoea and migraine. Dr Andrea says that the severity of the symptoms depends on the food ingested, appearing a few hours after consumption and lasting for several days.
For some people, digestive disorders are a source of discomfort that may cause them to limit their lifestyles and frequently miss work. For others, prolonged ingestion of a non-tolerated food may cause gut flora to alter, leading to inflammation of the small intestine’s lining. This can keep the body from absorbing nutrients, leading to nutritional deficiencies.
Studies show that around 90 percent of kids outgrow dairy, egg, wheat and soy allergies – but the chances that a shellfish or peanut allergy fades are much lower. Food intolerances can improve when an exclusion diet is followed for a limited period. This doesn’t apply to coeliac disease, an autoimmune condition that requires a gluten-free diet to be followed for life.
Dr Andrea advises anyone who displays food allergies symptoms or suspecting food intolerance to get a medical evaluation and testing to avoid further health problems or developing into a critical illness.
Andrea’s Digestive, Colon, Liver and Gallbladder Clinic
#21-11/12 Royal Square at Novena, 101 Irrawaddy Road
6264 2836 | andrea-digestive-clinic.com
#2 Critical illness and emergency medicine
Did you know that the discomfort and pain you’re experiencing may require urgent care, even if it’s not life threatening? According to consultant and emergency medicine specialist DR SANJEEV SHANKER, the more common causes that require urgent care include:
- open wounds that need stitches
- fractures and sprains
- food poisoning
- abdominal pain
- upper respiratory infections in children and adults
- foreign bodies in ears and eyes
Unlike the A&E, which is designed to manage time-sensitive, life-threatening conditions such as strokes, heart attacks and major accidents, urgent care centres provide urgent treatment outside of a hospital. They’re open to walk-in patients and, if needed, specialists like cardiologists, neurologists and surgeons can be called upon to see a patient.
Dr Sanjeev says that for conditions that will likely resolve within 24 hours of treatment such as food poisoning and kidney stones, admission to the centre’s 24-hour ward can be arranged.
For other medical emergency conditions that require longer hospital stays such as critical illness, it’s dependent on whether the patient prefers to be admitted to a private hospital or restructured hospital.
Direct admission to private hospitals can be arranged by the clinic. For patients who prefer to be admitted to restructured hospitals, a referral letter will be provided, and the clinic will help arrange transportation to the restructured hospital of the patient’s choice, via ambulance if required.
StarMed Specialist Centre
12 Farrer Park Station Road, #01-01
6322 6333 | starmedspecialist.com
This article first appeared in the August 2023 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!