Use this simple article to determine whether or not you need to visit the emergency room.

About 20 percent of trips to the ER are unnecessary. To recognize a true emergency (and avoid needless expense), remember this acronym: ABCDE.

Head to the ER stat (or dial 911) if you have any of these:

A - Airway
Choking (also do the Heimlich maneuver or CPR if needed)

B - Breathing
Rapid or slowed intake of air, wheezing, skin has a blue tinge

C - Circulation
Loss of consciousness, bleeding, agitation, lifelessness

D - Disability or dehydration
Injury or inability to walk or talk, inability to keep down food or liquids

E - Exposure to an environmental hazard
Various (causes can include heat exhaustion, hypothermia or poisoning)

Get help fast. Urgent-care centers treat non-threatening conditions and often have shorter wait times than ERs. Locate one at


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