When Should You Seek Emergency Care


Emergencies can strike at any time, and when they do, it’s important to be able to recognize the signs that you need emergency care. Emergency medicine is a branch of medicine concerned with providing medical treatment in acute situations where life, limb, or organ function may be at risk.

It’s important to be able to recognize the signs that you need emergency care—and to know the difference between emergency care and urgent care—so that you can make sure you get the treatment you need as quickly as possible, says Dr. Samuel Bride, the UMD Urgent Care expert at present.

Signs That You Need Emergency Care Right Away

1. Chest Pain: Chest pain should always be taken seriously, especially if it lasts for more than a few minutes and is accompanied by shortness of breath. This could be a sign of a heart attack or other serious condition and should be checked out right away by an emergency doctor or healthcare professional.

2. Severe Head Injury: A head injury can range from a minor bump on the head to something more serious, like a concussion or skull fracture. If there is any evidence of bleeding from the ears, nose, or mouth; confusion; vomiting; unequal pupil size; slurred speech; loss of consciousness; or seizures, seek emergency care immediately.

3. Difficulty Breathing: Shortness of breath should never be ignored and can indicate a serious underlying medical condition such as asthma, pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), or congestive heart failure. If you are having difficulty breathing and it does not improve after several minutes, seek emergency medical attention right away.

4. Severe Bleeding: Loss of blood from any part of your body can cause dizziness and lightheadedness due to low blood pressure, which can lead to shock if not treated quickly enough. Seek immediate medical attention for any wound that will not stop bleeding after 15 minutes of direct pressure has been applied with a clean cloth or bandage.

5. Sudden Onset Of Numbness Or Weakness: Sudden onset numbness or weakness in any part of your body could indicate stroke and should always be taken seriously and evaluated by an emergency physician immediately.

Other symptoms associated with stroke include vision changes, facial drooping, confusion, trouble speaking or understanding others’ speech, difficulty walking due to dizziness or loss of balance/coordination on one side of the body, sudden severe headache with no known cause/origin, and sudden nausea/vomiting without any other known cause/origin. 


Emergencies strike without warning and often require immediate medical attention in order for proper treatment to take place promptly enough so that permanent damage does not occur – which is why it’s important to know when you need emergency care versus regular urgent care services from your local clinic or hospital.

An emergency room should be your first choice for any major trauma or serious injury that requires an ambulance ride or if there are signs of a serious illness like a stroke or heart attack.

But, if you experience anything listed above or have any reason whatsoever to believe something is seriously wrong, you should seek emergency care right away. Always remember that when in doubt, seek help. Better safe than sorry!

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