When Do I Go to the Emergency Room for the flu?

Knowing 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 possibly 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 should 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, but 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. If you are pregnant, over the age of 65, or have any of the following signs that may be an indication that your body is unable to fight the flu on its own, it’s time to 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 right away if:

  • The person is not 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.

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

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 immediately.

You can attempt to “treat” your symptoms at home before going to the emergency room by drinking plenty of fluids, resting, and taking over-the-counter medications to relieve 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.

Your health and the health of others around you is important. Take precautions and seek help when needed.

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Our top priority is bringing high-quality emergency care, quickly and easily to your family. We are committed to making patients feel better faster in a comforting and compassionate environment.

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