Emergencies happen. But by taking a few steps you can be better prepared if they do.
Have a Family Doctor
Having a regular doctor who knows your medical history is your best defense against emergencies. Your family doctor knows you and can evaluate any new conditions in the context of your medical history. He or she can usually arrange to see you quickly and assess any non-emergency conditions.
Keep important medical information in your wallet or purse, including:
- Doctors’ names and phone numbers
- Medications, including dosage, for all prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and herbals
- Serious illnesses or surgeries you’ve had and the dates
Know When to Go to the ER
In general, these conditions demand immediate medical attention. You should get to an emergency room as quickly as possible. If you experience any symptoms you believe to be an emergency, do not hesitate to seek medical attention.
- Loss of consciousness
- Heart attack symptoms
- Stroke symptoms
- Significant shortness of breath
- Instantaneous and severe pain
- Coughing up blood
- Serious cuts, falls, burns, or other injuries
- Allergic reaction to insect bites, stings, or medication
- Bleeding that does not stop despite direct pressure for 10 minutes
Know When to Go to Your Family Doctor
The following issues may require a visit to the family doctor but are not considered emergencies.
- Sore throat
- Sprains, rashes, or minor burns
- Minor cuts
- Sting from an insect, unless you experience difficulty breathing