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It’s not always easy deciding whether to go to an emergency department (ED) or to wait and see your family doctor. A life-threatening situation always warrants a trip to the emergency department, as does anything with a sudden onset that causes extreme illness or change in mental status. But it can still be confusing to know when to go.
The American College of Emergency Physicians offers these helpful guidelines for when to seek emergency care. Go to the emergency department if you have:
Depending on the symptoms, you may also want to seek emergency care for severe asthma attacks and allergic reactions to food, medication or an insect bite or sting.
In the case of children, it’s always better to err on the side of caution because they may not be able to describe the severity of their illness. You know your child best, so if you think they are ill and need to be seen, follow your instincts.
If you’re unsure, call your doctor’s office and ask. If it’s after hours or on a weekend, the basic rule of thumb is when in doubt, go to the emergency department.
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