Primary Care

Medical Emergencies

A guide to help you understand medical emergencies

What is a medical emergency?

A medical emergency is a sudden injury or serious illness that, if not treated right away, could cause death or serious harm to you.

Warning signs that indicate a medical emergency include the following:

  • Extreme difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

  • Chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure

  • Fainting, sudden dizziness, weakness

  • Confusion or sudden changes in mental status (e.g., loss of consciousness, first episode of fainting)  

  • New or sudden difficulties with speech or forming coherent sentences 

  • New or sudden changes in your vision

  • Any severe or sudden pain you have not experienced before

  • Uncontrolled bleeding

  • Unusual abdominal pain

  • Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea

  • Coughing or vomiting blood

  • Fever of 103°F or above

  • Suicidal feelings

  • Threat to life or loss of life due to a mental illness or substance use

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