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When should I go to the emergency department?

Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department if you are experiencing any of these symptoms associated with the following complaints:

Chest Pain

Pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms; may spread to your neck, jaw or back
A feeling of fullness, nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain
Shortness of breath
Trouble sleeping
Lightheadedness or dizziness

Signs of Stroke

Numbness or weakness in the face, arms, or legs, often on 1 side of the body
Episodes of dizziness
Any changes in normal vision, for example, the loss of vision in 1 eye or double vision
Difficulty speaking or understanding speech
Severe, sudden headache


Most minor burns can be cared for at home with over-the-counter medications from a pharmacy. Blistering burns or more severe burns should be seen by your primary care provider or the emergency department.

If you are burned, these tips will help: After cooling with water, gently dry the burned area. Remove jewelry and clothing near the burn. Do not use butter, ice, or first aid creams. Wrap the burn with a clean, dry bandage. Seek medical help if needed.

Cold & Flu

Congestion, colored mucus, and general fatigue are signs of the common cold, which is a virus. Viral colds can be managed with medicines readily purchased at the pharmacy. Fluids and rest will also help.

Colds may last for 7-10 days. Many people will feel weak and tired during this period.

Flu symptoms are more serious and tend to come on faster. You may also have a fever, headache, muscle aches and soreness. Call your primary care provider.


For minor cuts, clean with soap and water, apply direct pressure, and elevate when possible. Apply dressing such as Bandaids.For more severe cuts, apply direct pressure immediately and seek immediate medical care.

For all cuts, wounds, and bites, be sure to contact your primary care provider. S/he will determine whether you need vaccinations to prevent infection and/or disease.


“Pink eye” or conjunctivitis is very common among children. It spreads easily in school and daycare. Eyes may be red, swollen, or itchy. You may notice a yellow-green discharge.

Call your pediatrician or primary care provider. It is extremely important to wash your hands carefully to prevent the spread of infection.


For children less than 1 month old, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.

For children older than 1 month, call your pediatrician’s office for instructions.

For adults, call your primary care provider for instructions if you develop a fever.

Sore throat

The combination of a sore throat, runny nose, and cough is probably a viral illness. Drink plenty of fluids and rest. If the throat pain also includes a bad headache, upset stomach, or rash, contact your primary care provider.

Stomach bug

For most healthy adults, staying home is the best approach. Many stomach bugs will end in 24-48 hours.

If you cannot keep liquids down and/or have severe diarrhea, call your primary care provider.

Dehydration is also a worry, especially for children and the elderly. If your child’s symptoms last longer than 24 hours, call your primary care provider or your child’s pediatrician.

If symptoms become rapidly worse, or your diarrhea and/or vomit contains blood, contact your primary care provider immediately or go to the emergency department.


If you do not have a primary health care provider or a pediatrician, we can help you find one in your area. Call 1-866-BAY-DOCS—24 hours a day, 7 days a week—to speak to someone who can help.