If you’re not sure when to go to an emergency room, we’ve included information from the American College of Emergency Physicians Foundation as a guide.


Some conditions which usually do not require emergency treatment:

  • Earaches
  • Headaches, unless severe or accompanied by stroke symptoms
  • Colds, coughs, sore throat, or flu symptoms
  • Chronic condition (i.e., back pain, knee pain) which has occurred continuously for several months
  • Fever – however, if in a newborn or if it remains high for a prolonged period of time, call your doctor or go to the ER
  •  Minor cuts in which bleeding has been stopped
  • Sprain, sunburn, minor burn
  • Insect sting – unless experiencing difficulty breathing, which requires immediate medical attention
  • Animal bite – call your doctor in the event a rabies shot is needed


 Some conditions for which you should go to an emergency room:


  • Loss of consciousness
  • Signs of a heart attack lasting longer than two minutes (may include pressure, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest, and/or chest pain with lightheadedness. In women, the symptoms could also include pain between the shoulder blades, pain radiating down the arm and nausea)
  • Signs of a stroke, which may include weakness or numbness in the face, arm, or leg on one side of the body; sudden dimness or loss of vision, particularly in one eye; loss of speech or trouble talking or understanding speech
  • Bleeding, that in spite of direct pressure for ten minutes, does not stop
  • Instantaneous and severe pain
  • Significant shortness of breath
  • Allergic reaction to a food, medication, or insect sting, especially if breathing becomes difficult
  • Poisoning – If at all possible, first contact the local poison control center. Request immediate applicable advice, since some poisons must be vomited immediately while other poisons must be diluted with water. Acting quickly in this manner can save a life.
  • Serious traumatic injury (i.e., to the head)
  • Unexplained prolonged stupor, drowsiness, or disorientation
  • Vomiting or coughing up blood
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Suicidal or homicidal feelings
  • Neck stiffness or rash with fever