When to Visit the ER for Sudden Weakness

When to Go to the ER

Mar 18, 2020


At some point in time, everyone experiences feeling tired. And if you are dealing with a lot of work responsibilities and tight deadlines, or — the big kahuna of them all — are a parent of young children, you may feel like your levels of exhaustion are reaching new heights. But, there’s a difference between a lack of energy and feeling fatigued and experiencing body weakness due to a chronic health condition.

What is weakness?

While the term is often used interchangeably by people experiencing fatigue or tiredness, weakness is the term used to refer to a loss of muscle strength — to such an extent that it interferes with muscle function. It can be generalized or it may affect exclusively a specific group of muscles. Sometimes, affecting the brain, peripheral nerves, or spinal cord.

Causes of Sudden Weakness

Sudden weakness is often the result of an injury, neuromuscular or metabolic diseases, heart disease, adrenal disease, malnutrition, hepatitis, toxin overload, or cancer. It may also be possible to experience muscle weakness if you are taking certain medications, excessive consumption of alcohol, or a loss of muscle tissue due to long periods of inactivity or extended bed rest.

On the non-life-threatening side of the spectrum, you may experience muscle weakness if you suffer from nerve impingement, fibromyalgia, influenza, mononucleosis, or a mood disorder. Less common causes include electrolyte deficiencies or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

When to Go to the ER For Sudden Weakness

While some chronic conditions include regular sudden bouts of weaknesses, there are instances when you should seek immediate medical attention to prevent permanent disability. These include:

  • Drooping on one side of the face
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Walking difficulties
  • Difficulty talking, chewing, or swallowing
  • Weakness in the legs
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fainting

When you go to the doctor, you will be asked questions about when the weakness began, which muscles are affected, which activities are difficult to perform, whether it began gradually or suddenly, and whether it has remained constant or it’s worsening. The medical provider will then conduct testing to determine the cause of weakness — a muscle disorder (myopathy), peripheral nerve disorder (polyneuropathies), or a spinal cord or brain disorder.

You should also tell your doctor if you’re undergoing chemotherapy or have a history of anemia or diabetes. If you’re feeling arm weakness and paralysis on one side of the body — along with slurred speech and impaired vision — you may be suffering from a stroke. If that’s the case, call 911 immediately.

24-Hour Emergency Room Services in Colorado Springs and Texas

If you’re experiencing weakness, we can provide you with the care you need. If you have questions or need immediate treatment, your nearest Complete Care location is ready to help, no matter the time of day or night. We offer a variety of services to help you and your family in your time of need. No appointments are necessary.

Find the Complete Care location nearest you.