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24-Hour Urgent Care Centre​ (UCC)

Common Medical Emergencies

If you are feeling unwell, check your symptoms to decide when to visit Gleneagles Hospital's Urgent Care Centre (UCC) and how to make yourself more comfortable before you arrive. Our multidisciplinary team of specialists provides quality and personalised care for conditions such as (but not limited to) the following:

What is abdominal pain?

Abdominal pain is usually a result of a temporary stomachache caused by:

  • Trapped wind
  • Indigestion
  • Overeating
  • Smoking
  • Viral or bacterial infection
  • Menstrual cramps

You can take over-the-counter painkillers to relieve mild to moderate pain.

More serious abdominal pain that is sudden and localised can be a sign of:

  • Appendicitis
  • Ulcers
  • Gallstones
  • Kidney stones
  • Gynaecological emergencies in women

When to visit the UCC

Visit the UCC if you:

  • Have sudden or severe pain that lasts more than an hour, or comes on and off for more than 24 hours
  • Are vomiting repeatedly, or have blood in your vomit
  • Pass bloody or black stools
  • Have diarrhoea
  • Are unable to eat or drink for hours
  • Have fever higher than 39°C

For children

Bring your child to the UCC if your child:

  • Experiences pain when urinating or has blood in their urine
  • Has sudden or severe stomach or abdominal pain, which worsens or is localised in one particular area
  • Has a fever (with oral temperature of 37.8°C or higher)
  • Has difficulty urinating or is urinating more frequently than usual
  • Vomits repeatedly or has blood in their vomit
  • Passes bloody or black stools

What you can do

Before you or your child arrives at the UCC, you can:

  • Take frequent sips of water to stay hydrated unless you suspect you have appendicitis.
  • Avoid tea, coffee and alcohol as these can worsen the pain.
  • Place a hot water bottle or warm compress on your abdomen. Be careful not to scald yourself.
  • For severe pain, you may take a mild painkiller such as paracetamol. Avoid aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs unless advised by a doctor.

What is gout?

Gout is a form of arthritis caused by a build-up of uric acid in the blood. Excess uric acid can accumulate in your body if you consume too much:

  • Red meat
  • Organ meat
  • Seafood
  • Alcoholic beverages, especially beer

Gout symptoms

Gout causes painful swelling that affects your mobility. It normally occurs in the big toe, but may also affect your ankles, heels, knees and other joints in the body.

Anti-inflammatory painkillers can help to ease the pain of an acute gout attack. To avoid high uric acid and prevent gout:

  • Eat plenty of vegetables and poultry
  • Drink lots of water
  • Minimise consumption of alcohol, red meat, organ meat and seafood

When to visit the UCC

Visit the UCC if you:

  • Have severe pain that worsens
  • Have a high fever
  • Are referred by your general practitioner

What is appendicitis?

Appendicitis is considered a medical emergency, and immediate surgery is usually required to remove the appendix.

The appendix is a small tube of tissue located inside the large intestine. Its purpose is unknown, and we can live without it.

Appendicitis occurs if this tube becomes blocked and subsequently inflamed. Left untreated, the appendix may burst and leak fluid into the intestine, which spreads the infection and can be fatal.

When to visit the UCC

Visit the UCC if you:

  • Have a dull or sharp pain in your stomach or right-hand side of the abdomen
  • Have no appetite
  • Feel nauseous or are vomiting
  • Have a fever

What is asthma?

Asthma is a common condition that causes wheezing, coughing, a tight chest and shortness of breath.

Asthma can be triggered by:

  • Pollen
  • Mould
  • Air pollutants such as haze
  • Pet allergies
  • Dust mites
  • Smoking
  • Infections, including coughs and colds
  • Exercise

If you suspect you are having an asthma attack, take a seat, stay calm and try to take slow, steady breaths.

When to visit the UCC

Visit the UCC if:

  • Your symptoms are getting worse
  • You do not have your inhaler with you or you have not been prescribed one
  • You are not feeling better after using your inhaler

For children

Bring your child to the UCC if your child:

  • Has difficulty breathing or speaking in full sentences
  • Has skin or lips that are turning blue
  • Is lethargic or drowsy
  • Is unable to eat or drink well

What you can do

Before you or your child arrives at the UCC:

  • Try to remain calm, as panicking may worsen your symptoms
  • Use a bronchodilator inhaler if you have one
  • Sit upright and take puffs of your inhaler every few minutes
  • Use a space chamber with a face mask of appropriate size to administer inhaler medications to your younger children
  • Avoid lying down as it may further restrict your airways and breathing
  • Follow the medication guidelines in your asthma emergency action plan if your doctor has given you one
  • Upon arrival, alert the hospital staff that you are having an asthma attack

What is a cold?

A cold is a viral infection affecting your nose and throat. It causes inflammation with symptoms such as blocked or runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, sore throat and cough.

What is flu?

Influenza or flu is a respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It is more severe and contagious than a cold.

Symptoms of flu

You may have flu if your symptoms include:

  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Body aches
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea

When to visit the UCC

Visit the UCC if you:

  • Have difficulty breathing or are short of breath
  • Have a fever of 38°C or higher
  • Are referred by your general practitioner
  • Have long-term medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease or kidney disease
  • Have unusual symptoms, such as rashes, weakness in your arms and legs, joint pain and swelling
  • Are 65 and above
  • Are pregnant

For children

Bring your child to the UCC if your child:

  • Has skin that is turning blue or ashen and grey
  • Has difficulty breathing or is breathing fast
  • Is lethargic or is not responding as usual
  • Refuses to drink fluids, or is dehydrated (with symptoms such as crankiness and infrequent urination)

Types of skin injuries

Skin injuries in include the following:

  • Cuts, which break the surface of your skin and cause bleeding.
  • Bruises, which form when there is hard contact with something and small blood vessels burst to form a reddish mark under the skin.

When to visit the UCC

Visit the UCC if:

  • Your cut is deep and the bleeding does not stop
  • You see exposed bone or tendon tissues in your wound
  • You suspect a foreign body is left in the wound
  • You develop an infection from the cut with symptoms such as fever, swelling, pain, or pus in the wound
  • The cut is caused by an animal or rusty object
  • You have been hit on the head or ear
  • You feel dizzy, nauseous or faint

What you can do

Before you arrive at the UCC:

  • Clean your wound gently. Thoroughly wash out the wound using tap water or saline solution
  • Do not attempt to remove any large or deeply embedded foreign object from the wound without knowing the severity of the injury. This can cause serious consequences such as severe blood loss.
  • Keep your injured area elevated above your heart to reduce blood loss.
  • Stop the bleeding by applying direct pressure on it.

What is dengue fever?

Dengue fever is a viral infection transmitted by mosquito bites.

Symptoms of dengue

Within 4 – 7 days, you may develop these symptoms:

  • Bleeding from the nose or gums or easy bruising of the skin
  • Body and joint pain
  • Fever lasting more than 2 days.
  • Headache with pain behind the eye
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rashes
  • Stomach pain

Note: Avoid taking aspirin as it can worsen your condition.

Rare complications from dengue fever require urgent medical attention.

When to visit the UCC

Visit the UCC if you:

  • Are referred by your general practitioner
  • Feel extremely faint and weak
  • Have severe abdominal pain or recurrent vomiting
  • Have rapid or difficult breathing
  • Are bleeding from the nose or gums
  • Feel worse in the 24 hours after your fever subsides

What is a fever?

You have a fever when your body temperature is higher than 37.4°C. Fevers may be caused by infections, illnesses, overheating or dehydration.

Don’t rely on touch to assess your body temperature. Use a thermometer.

Symptoms of fever

When you have a fever, it is also common to experience headaches, loss of appetite, body aches, shivers, sweating, weakness and a hot, flushed face.

When to visit the UCC

Visit the UCC if you have a fever coupled with 1 or more of the following symptoms:

  • Coughing up blood
  • Difficulty breathing (especially children)
  • Severe chest pain
  • Rash
  • Trouble breathing
  • Severe headache or neck pain
  • Seizure, fits or confusion
  • Severe vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Severe pain in the belly, back, or sides

You should also visit the UCC if you have a fever and:

  • Are pregnant
  • Recently had surgery or a medical procedure
  • Are undergoing chemotherapy and your oral temperature exceeds 38°C for more than an hour
  • Are taking steroids and medicines following an organ transplant
  • Have diabetes, heart disease, cancer, lupus or sickle cell anaemia
  • Get an infection often
  • Recently travelled to 1 of these regions:
    • Africa
    • Asia
    • Latin America
    • Middle East

For children

Bring your child to the UCC if your child:

  • Has a fever higher than 41°C
  • Has trouble breathing or shortness of breath
  • Is vomiting repeatedly and has a stiff neck or severe headache
  • Has blue lips or patches of red and purple skin
  • Has a rash or bruise that does not fade away when you press the side of a glass against it
  • Has convulsions or febrile seizures
  • Is drowsy, lethargic or unresponsive
  • Refuses to drink fluid or is cranky, lethargic and urinating less due to dehydration

What you can do

Before arriving at the UCC, you or your child can:

  • Dress comfortably in lightweight clothing
  • Apply cold compress to your neck, armpits or forehead
  • Drink water or suck on ice chips to replenish lost fluid. For young children, an electrolyte solution is recommended
  • Take fever-reducing medications such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin. Children should be given the correct dosage of paracetamol based on their age and weight

Note:

  • Do not give aspirin to children or teenagers.
  • Do not give ibuprofen to infants younger than 6 months.

What are gallstones?

The gall bladder is a small organ under the liver that produces bile, a digestive fluid our intestine uses to break down fatty foods. Gallstones are small lumps of material that form inside the gall bladder, creating blockages.

Symptoms can include pain in your belly or back, ranging from mild to severe, as well as nausea and vomiting.

Gallstones are often caused by a build-up of too much cholesterol. Occasionally, chronic conditions such as liver disease or sickle cell anaemia are the cause.

Your risk of developing them is much higher if you are obese, have diabetes, have a family history of gallstones, take birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, or are pregnant.

When to visit the UCC

Visit the UCC if you:

  • Are in persistent pain (lasting longer than 2 hours)
  • Have a fever
  • Have itchy skin or jaundice (whites of eyes and skin appear yellow)
  • Have a significant increase in your heart rate
  • Are confused or agitated

What causes headaches?

Headaches are a common condition that many of us would have experienced in our lives.

Common causes of headaches include stress, lack of sleep, hunger, flu, sinus problems, too much alcohol (leading to dehydration) or allergies.

Symptoms could also be the after effects of a head injury, or indicate a more serious condition such as a stroke or brain tumour.

When to visit the UCC

Visit the UCC if you:

  • Are experiencing your most severe headache to date
  • Had hit your head prior to the headache, and the headache is getting worse
  • Are slurring your speech
  • Feel weak or numb in your limbs
  • Have a stiff neck
  • Have a seizure
  • Have blurring or loss of vision

For children

Bring your child to the UCC if your child:

  • Experiences vision loss
  • Experiences muscle weakness
  • Is vomiting repeatedly
  • Has a severe headache located at the back of their head
  • Is lethargic, drowsy or unresponsive

What are hives?

Hives are raised, itchy skin rashes. They appear suddenly and can be localised to one area of your body or spread over a larger area. Hives can last from a few hours to several months.

Causes of hives

It is often difficult for doctors to pinpoint the cause of hives. Common causes include:

  • Stress
  • Infections
  • Insect bites
  • Temperature changes
  • Allergic reaction to a substance or food

To relieve your discomfort:

  • Keep your skin cool
  • Apply an ice pack to the affected areas
  • Wear loose and lightweight clothes

When to visit the UCC

Visit the UCC if:

  • You suspect your hives are due to an allergic reaction
  • Your eyes, lips, tongue or throat swell up
  • You are finding it difficult to breathe or swallow
  • You experience stomach pain or diarrhoea

For children

Bring your child to the UCC if your child:

  • Develops sudden and severe hives after an insect bite, taking new medication or consuming a new type of food or food that is highly allergenic, such as milk or peanuts
  • Has noisy breathing
  • Has difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Has severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Turns pale, limp or loses consciousness

What you can do

Before you or your child arrives at the UCC:

  • Avoid scratching your skin
  • Avoid wearing rough, scratchy or tight-fitting clothing which may irritate the skin
  • Take an oral antihistamine

What are insect bites and stings?

Insect bites and stings may cause swollen and itchy red marks on the skin. They usually clear up after a few days and do not require medical intervention.

If you are bitten or stung by an insect:

  • Gently scrape off any stinger. Do not try to squeeze it out as you may spread the venom.
  • Wash the area with soap and water. Pat dry.
  • Apply an ice pack to minimise swelling.
  • Do not scratch the areas as this may lead to infection.
  • Apply over-the-counter topical medication recommended by your pharmacist.

Occasionally, some insect bites or stings can trigger more serious allergic reactions that require immediate medical attention.

When to visit the UCC

Visit the UCC if:

  • You have been stung 3 times or more
  • Your mouth or face feels itchy after you are stung in the mouth or other parts of your body
  • Your eyes, lips, tongue or throat feel swollen
  • You are struggling to breathe
  • You feel nauseous, are vomiting or have diarrhoea
  • Your heart is beating very fast
  • You feel giddy, agitated or confused
  • Your skin has gone very pale

For children

Bring your child to the UCC if your child:

  • Feels dizzy or faint
  • Develops sudden and severe hives
  • Has a swollen face
  • Has difficulty breathing
  • Had a serious allergic reaction to an insect bite previously
  • Has an infected insect bite that is oozing liquid, or is warm, red, swollen or growing bigger

What are kidney stones?

Kidney stones are small pebble-like lumps of salt or minerals that form in urine. They can stay inside the kidney or pass through the rest of the urinary tract (the tube connecting your kidneys to your bladder, your bladder itself, and then out of the body).

The most common cause is not drinking enough water.

Kidney stones may not cause pain when they are inside the kidneys, but they can cause sudden, severe pain as they travel through the urinary tract.

When to visit the UCC

Visit the UCC if:

  • You experience sudden or severe pain in your side, belly or groin
  • There is blood in your urine
  • You are nauseous or vomiting

What are burns and scalds?

Burns and scalds are injuries to the skin caused by heat:

  • Burns are caused by dry heat such as fire or hot metal. Burns are classified from first degree (least serious) to third degree (most serious).
  • Scalds happen when steam, liquids and chemicals injure your skin.

How to treat burns

If you suffer third degree burns or burns over a large skin area, seek medical attention immediately.

To treat small areas with first and second degree burns:

  • Remove any clothing or jewellery near the burnt area.

  • Do not try to remove clothing stuck to the wound.

  • Pour cool water over the wound for at least 10 minutes. Do not use ice, iced water, butter or other greasy substances.

  • Cover the burn loosely with a sterile gauze bandage or cling wrap, taking care not to touch the burn or burst any blisters.

  • Ask your pharmacist to recommend over-the-counter painkillers.

When to visit the UCC

Visit the UCC if:

  • Your burn is bigger than your hand
  • You have been burnt in the nose, mouth, throat, eyes, ears or genital area
  • You have inhaled smoke
  • You are struggling to breathe
  • You have been burnt by chemicals, electricity or lightning
  • Your skin is white, leathery or charred

For children

Bring your child to the UCC if your child has a burn:

  • That is oozing pus and appears infected
  • On the face, hands, fingers or chest
  • Over a large area of skin

What is nausea?

Nausea is a discomfort in your stomach that makes you feel like vomiting.

What causes nausea?

Nausea can be caused by:

  • Food allergy
  • Morning sickness during pregnancy
  • Motion sickness
  • Overeating
  • Viral infections

To relieve nausea:

  • Sip small amounts of water or a sports drink.
  • Eat small amounts of light, bland food.
  • Avoid eating if you have just vomited.

When to visit the UCC

Nausea could be a sign of intestinal blockage, concussion or head injuries. Visit the UCC if you:

  • Have severe pain in your stomach, chest or belly
  • Have severe headache or stiff neck
  • Have a fever higher than 38°C
  • Are vomiting after a head injury
  • Vomited blood or substance that looks like coffee grounds
  • Have blood in your stools or stools that are black like tar
  • Feel extremely tired or have trouble getting up
  • Are severely dehydrated, with signs like:
    • Fatigue
    • Severe thirst with dry mouth or tongue
    • Muscle cramps
    • Dizzinesss
    • Confusion
    • Dark yellow urine, or not needing to urinate for more than 5 hours

For children

Bring your child to the UCC if your child:

  • Has green or bloody vomit
  • Has been vomiting for several days
  • Has a stiff neck, headache or rash
  • Is drowsy
  • Is unable to keep fluids down
  • Is showing signs of dehydration such as crankiness, lethargy or infrequent urination

What you can do

Before you or your child arrives at the UCC, you can:

  • Bring a disposable vomit bag with you
  • Rest in a sitting position or lie down with your head elevated
  • Avoid forcing yourself or your child to eat.
  • Take sips of water slowly
  • Take an oral rehydration solution to replace electrolytes lost through vomiting
  • Avoid caffeinated or carbonated drinks.
  • Avoid fatty and oily food

What is a nosebleed?

Nosebleeds occur when tiny blood vessels in your nose burst. The bleeding may be light or heavy and can occur in one or both nostrils. Nosebleeds can last from a few seconds to over 10 minutes.

What causes nosebleeds?

Nosebleeds can be caused by:

  • Blowing your nose too hard
  • Dry climates
  • Irritation from foreign objects in the nose
  • Being hit in the face
  • Allergies
  • Infections
  • Alcohol or drug use

If you have a nosebleed:

  • Take a seat, lean forward and pinch your nose just above the nostrils
  • Breathe through your mouth and wait for the bleeding to stop
  • Place an ice pack on the bridge of your nose if your nose is injured

When to visit the UCC

Visit the UCC if:

  • Your nosebleed is caused by an injury, such as being punched or hit by an object
  • Bleeding does not stop after 20 minutes

For children

Bring your child to the UCC if your child:

  • Has an object stuffed into their nose
  • Has a nosebleed that does not stop for more than 30 minutes after you applied simple first aid
  • Has associated body bruising
  • Is pale, dizzy or feels weak
  • Is also bleeding in other areas, such as gums

What causes conjunctivitis (sore eyes)?

Conjunctivitis (also known as sore eyes or ‘pink eye’) is an inflammation of the eye. Eyes can become sore after coming into contact with irritants, and in some cases, conjunctivitis can occur.

Common causes include:

  • Bacterial or viral infections
  • Allergic reaction to smoke, pollen or dust
  • Irritation from chemicals such as pool chlorine or those found in contact lenses

Symptoms of conjunctivitis

Symptoms of conjunctivitis include:

  • Pink or red eyes
  • Swollen, itchy or sore eyes
  • Watery or yellow discharge
  • A feeling that there is something resembling sand stuck in the eye

Conjunctivitis is highly contagious. If you or your child has conjunctivitis:

  • Avoid touching the infected eye directly
  • Wash your hands often, especially before eating
  • Avoid sending your child to school or day care until their symptoms are completely gone

When to visit the UCC

Visit the UCC if:

  • You feel there is a sensation of a foreign object in your eye
  • Your vision is affected, such as becoming blurry or being sensitive to light
  • Your sore eyes are due to chemical irritation

For children

If your newborn baby has conjunctivitis, bring your child to the UCC.

What are sprains and strains?

Strains and sprains are injuries to your muscles, tendons or ligaments resulting from accidents happening while you were moving.

  • A sprain is the stretching or partial tearing of your ligaments, most commonly in the knees, ankles and wrists.
  • A strain is the stretching or partial tearing of your muscles or tendons, commonly in the leg and back.

Both can cause pain, swelling, bruising, soreness and restricted movement.

If you suspect a broken bone (fracture), seek medical attention.

Treating sprains and strains

You can treat the area using PRICE therapy:

  • Protect the area from further injury, such as by using crutches or braces
  • Rest the affected area to promote healing
  • Ice the affected area to reduce swelling and pain
  • Compress with an elastic bandage to reduce swelling and provide some support
  • Elevate the affected area above heart level to reduce swelling

When to visit the UCC

Visit the UCC if:

  • You are referred by your general practitioner
  • You are experiencing severe pain in the injured area
  • Your limb is deformed

For children

Bring your child to the UCC if your child:

  • Has numbness or coldness in the affected limb
  • Has symptoms like pain or swelling that does not improve after a few days
  • Has a deformity or an exposed bone due to the injury
  • Has pain in the affected area even after taking pain-killer
  • Is in severe pain
  • Is unable to move or bear weight on the injured joint or muscle

What you can do

Before you or your child arrives at the UCC:

  • Try not to rest any weight on the injured area
  • Apply an ice pack wrapped in a wet towel to the injured area for about 15 – 20 minutes every 2 – 3 hours
  • Avoid exercise, heat packs, alcohol and massages, which can worsen the swelling
  • Take a painkiller such as paracetamol if you experience severe pain

What is a urinary tract infection (UTI)?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common bacterial infection that mainly affects women. A UTI generally lasts between 24 – 48 hours. Its symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Blood in your urine
  • An urge to urinate more often than usual
  • A burning sensation in the urinary passage

If you have a UTI, drink plenty of water to flush out your system and avoid holding in urine when you feel a need to urinate. Antibiotics may also help you to get better faster.

It is possible for a UTI to infect your kidneys, which will require urgent medical attention.

When to visit the UCC

Visit the UCC if you:

  • Have a severe pain or tenderness in your back or side
  • Have a severe fever
  • Feel nauseous or are vomiting

For children

Bring your child to the UCC if your child:

  • Has a fever
  • Has back pain
  • Has blood in the urine
  • Feels pain when passing urine
  • Has foul-smelling urine
  • Is vomiting or refusing to eat

What is vertigo?

Vertigo is the feeling that your surroundings are spinning around you. This may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting or a ringing in the ears.

Vertigo is linked to several conditions. One of the most common condition is labyrinthitis, which is a swelling of the nerves in the ear that are vital for balance.

If you are diagnosed with an infection, your doctor can prescribe medications to relieve your symptoms.

More rarely, vertigo is a sign of a serious neurological condition such as a stroke, which requires immediate medical attention.

When to visit the UCC

Visit the UCC if:

  • You are very distressed by the vertigo
  • You have difficulty maintaining balance or walking
  • You have difficulty speaking or swallowing
  • Your face is drooping
  • Your arms and legs feel numb or weak
  • You have recently sustained a neck injury