I May Have the Flu – When to Go to the Emergency Room

fluKnowing when you should go to the emergency room, when to make an appointment with your doctor and when it’s better to just stay home can save you time and money as well as possible reduce the risk of getting sicker or getting others sick. The need to go to the emergency room is generally based on how sick you are and not what type of flu you may have. So, when do you simply tough it out at home and when should you head for the emergency room? Here are some guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help you know when to seek emergency treatment for the flu.

When the Flu Warrants a Trip to the Emergency Room

People with a chronic illness, such as COPD, congestive heart failure, diabetes or asthma should be seen by their regular physician within a day or two of getting sick. If you are unable to get an appointment, you should go to the emergency room. In some situations, the flu may lead to serious complications and emergency medical attention is necessary.

Pregnant women and people over the age of 65 or if any of the following signs are present it may be an indication that your body is unable to fight the flu on its own, so you should go to the emergency room:

  • Chest or stomach pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness and/or lightheadedness
  • Severe vomiting and/or severe diarrhea

The above symptoms apply to both adults and children; however, 9-1-1 should be called for people, especially children to be seen in the emergency room right away if:

  • They aren’t interacting with you or cannot be woken up
  • They have a high fever with a rash
  • Their skin or lips appear bluish

Children can tolerate a higher fever than adults; however, a fever of 102 is high for both children and adults, especially adults.

Know the Signs of Dehydration

If there are signs of dehydration, it may be necessary to be given fluids intravenously. Symptoms include:

  • Urinating less frequently
  • Feeling excessively thirsty
  • Difficulty keeping fluids down

Reoccurring Symptoms

You should also go to the emergency room for the flu if you thought you were getting better, but the symptoms have returned. If your cough is worse than before and your fever is higher than before, you should seek medical attention.


It is important that you attempt to “treat” your symptoms at home before going to the emergency room. Attempt to relieve your symptoms at home by drinking plenty of fluids, rest and take over-the-counter medications, such as Tylenol to relieve a fever. You should stay home from school, work, shopping, traveling and any other public gatherings. It is also recommended that you stay home for a minimum of 24-hours after your fever is gone. It is important to not let the flu get out of hand, because there is a risk of other complications, such as pneumonia, bronchitis, ear infections and/or sinus infections.

Surepoint Emergency Center is open 24 hours a day and is located at I-35E and Loop 288 on the east side of the highway. At Surepoint, you seen by a doctor within 5 minutes of your arrival. No waiting in the hospital emergency room waiting when you are sick.