When to Go to the ER for the Flu

Cold & Flu

Dec 2, 2023


Flu season is here once again and with it comes some unpleasant symptoms including runny noses, sore throats, body aches, and fatigue. Although catching the flu isn’t uncommon around this time of year, that does not mean that these symptoms should be ignored or brushed under the rug. 

There are instances when the flu can take on more severe symptoms and rest, fluids, and at-home remedies just won’t cut it. Understanding when to go to the ER for the flu to seek medical attention is crucial around the winter months to ensure that your sickness does not progress into something more sinister.

These are signs of when to go to the ER for the flu:

  • High fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Severe chest or stomach pain
  • Sudden dizziness or fainting 
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting

For all the illnesses that this season can bring, Complete Care is here for you and your loved ones 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our medical staff is here to make sure that you can enjoy this time of year and not let sicknesses like the flu damper your spirit. 

What are normal flu symptoms?

Before we answer the question, “When should you go to the ER for the flu?” it’s important to know what flu symptoms are considered normal and can be treated at home or at an urgent care facility. As mentioned earlier, this illness typically brings a few unpleasant — but not overly concerning — symptoms including:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Cough and sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (not always present in every case)

How long does the flu last? 

The average, healthy person suffering from the flu will typically see significant improvement and can likely make a full recovery within two weeks. However, there are some cases where the symptoms persist, seem to absolve, and then return, or worsen. If any of these events take place, it could be a sign that your flu symptoms are more severe than you think.

How do I know if my flu is serious?

If you experience any of the following emergency warning signs of flu, head to your nearest emergency room to be evaluated:

  • Shortness of breath: Difficulty breathing should be treated as an emergency, especially if you have preexisting conditions such as asthma chest tightness. An ER will be able to administer shortness of breath treatments to help stabilize your breathing back to normal.
  • High or persistent fever: A key sign of when to go to the ER for a fever is when the fever does not go down after medication is taken or your body temperature is at 103 degrees or higher.
  • Severe dehydration: Because vomiting and diarrhea can occur with the flu, keeping your body hydrated is crucial. If you feel lightheaded or confused coupled with extreme thirst and/or minimal urination, seek medical help.

Left unchecked, these emergency warning signs of the flu could turn into something much worse such as bronchitis, a chronic sinus infection, or even pneumonia. Certain people are also at risk for developing complications if they get the flu. If you or a loved one falls under any of these categories, have them seek medical attention as soon as possible.

  • Younger than 5 years old  
  • Younger than 19 and on long-term aspirin therapy
  • 65 years or older
  • Pregnant
  • Suffering from a chronic condition such as asthma, diabetes, emphysema, heart disease, or blood, liver or kidney disease
  • Has a weakened immune system due to HIV or medications

How can you stop the spread of the flu?

The best way to stop the spread of this illness is to know how to stay healthy during cold and flu season and practice these safety tips. The key to preventing the flu is to practice good hygiene and to distance yourself from people who are already sick. Wash your hands regularly, carry around your own personal hand sanitizer to use frequently, do your laundry, clean frequently used surfaces, and wear a mask if necessary. 

Unfortunately, sometimes we just get sick around this time of year. You can work to prevent it, but it’s not 100% preventable. Have no fear, in the event that you do catch the flu and fluids, rest, and OTC medications aren’t helping you to recover, Complete Care is here to pick up the slack.

Wondering when to go to the ER for the flu? Complete Care has got you covered this season.

Is it worth going to the ER for the flu? If you’re experiencing a high fever, shortness of breath, severe chest and stomach pain, dizziness, dehydration, or vomiting, then yes, going to the ER for the flu is worth it. The flu can be a miserable illness to experience, especially around the holiday season when we’re supposed to be enjoying time with loved ones. If you find that you feel miserable and can’t seem to find relief, head on over to Complete Care for help.

Complete Care’s freestanding emergency rooms are open 24/7 and have lower wait times than traditional hospitals with the same quality of care. No matter your symptoms or your age, we can take complete care of all flu patients this season. 

Don’t let the flu stop you from enjoying the most wonderful time of the year. We have multiple locations in Texas (Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas/Fort Worth, East Texas, Lubbock, and San Antonio) and in Colorado Springs. Come by today to get in, out, and back to your life. 

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