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When to Call For Help

Picture of emergency response personnel placing a call

Anytime you are not comfortable with a medical situation, call 911 (or your local emergency number), go to your nearest emergency room, or call your family physician.

According to the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), the following 12 conditions warrant immediate medical attention:

  • Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath

  • Chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure lasting 2 minutes or more

  • Fainting, sudden dizziness, weakness

  • Changes in vision

  • Confusion or changes in mental status

  • Any sudden or severe pain

  • Uncontrolled bleeding

  • Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea

  • Coughing or vomiting blood

  • Suicidal or homicidal feelings

  • Difficulty speaking

  • Unusual abdominal pain

 

Additional conditions and symptoms that require emergency attention include:

  • Poisoning

  • Drug overdose

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Major burn

  • Spinal cord, head, or brain injury

  • Severe allergic reaction

 

Emergencies for Children

ACEP recommends seeking immediate help if your child exhibits any of the following:

  • Any significant change from normal behavior

  • Confusion or delirium

  • Decreasing responsiveness or alertness

  • Excessive sleepiness

  • Irritability

  • Seizure

  • Strange or withdrawn behavior

  • Severe headache or vomiting, especially after a head injury

  • Uncontrolled bleeding

  • Inability to stand up or unsteady walking

  • Unconsciousness

  • Abnormal or difficult breathing

  • Skin or lips that look blue or purple (gray for darker-skinned children)

  • Feeding or eating difficulties

  • Increasing or severe, persistent pain

  • Fever accompanied by a change in behavior (especially with a severe, sudden headache accompanied by mental changes, neck or back stiffness or rashes)

  • Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea

 

When to call for assistance:

Remember, anytime you are not comfortable with a medical situation, you should call for assistance. By acting quickly, you may prevent a serious emergency and could save a life.

Online Medical Reviewer: Hanrahan, John, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Weisbart, Ed, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 3/31/2013
© 2000-2014 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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