Signs of Health Emergencies

Urgent medical care means that there is a change in your health that needs medical help right away. If you or someone you are caring for show any of these symptoms, seek urgent medical care at an urgent care clinic or emergency department.


Seek immediate medical attention if:

  • A person of any age with a fever is very irritable or lethargic (difficult to wake up or keep awake), vomiting, and may have a stiffneck, or a rash.


Seek immediate medical attention if:

  • A sick person of any age is having trouble breathing (not caused by a stuffy nose).
  • A sick person is breathing much faster or slower than usual, or has blue lips, hands,or feet.

General Condition

Seek immediate medical attention is a sick person of any age:

  • Is lethargic
  • Is more confused, irritableor agitated than normal
  • Has a severe headache that will not go away
  • Has a stiff neck
  • Has mottled or pale skin
  • Seems to be cold to the touch
  • Has signs of dehydration (like dry skin, dry mouth, a sunken soft spot in a baby, or very little urine)

Other reasons to seek immediate medical attention include:

  • If a sick person has difficulty swallowing or excessive drooling
  • If a sick person of any age is limp, unable to move, or has a seizure

This information is given as a reference only. At all times, you must use your own knowledge and judgement as to whether you need to talk to a doctor, nurse, or nurse practitioner.

In British Columbia, you can call HealthLink BC (dial 811) if you need advice or are unsure of the best course of action.

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