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What is an Emergency?

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) recommends anyone with the following symptoms seek immediate medical attention:

  • Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
  • Chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure
  • Unusual abdominal pain
  • Fainting, dizziness, weakness
  • Changes in vision
  • Confusion or changes in mental status
  • Sudden or severe pain
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Suicidal feelings
  • Difficulty speaking

Anyone who thinks they may be having an emergency should get to a hospital emergency department as quickly as possible, either by their own means or by dialing 9-1-1 for an ambulance. With children, ACEP recommends erring on the side of caution. Symptoms that may not be serious in an adult may be very serious in a child. The rule of thumb is always to seek medical attention if you think your child is having a medical emergency.