When to go to the ER for flu symptoms

Influenza types A and B, plus subtypes of influenza A, are responsible for causing outbreaks of the flu each year. Sometimes, those outbreaks become deadly. Emergency care providers strongly recommend that all individuals who are medically able to get vaccinated do so at the start of each flu season. You should also know the warning signs of a serious case of influenza , which warrant a trip to the ER at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center.

Identifying serious flu symptoms
Serious flu symptoms that require emergency care include:

  • Relentless nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest or abdominal pain or pressure
  • Symptoms that improve, but then worsen

Infants need emergency care if they have any of these serious symptoms:

  • Inability to feed
  • Problems breathing
  • Few to no wet diapers
  • Lack of tears when crying

Older children who are seriously ill with influenza may have any of these health problems:

  • Bluish skin color
  • Inability to keep liquids down
  • Rapid breathing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Inability to be awakened
  • Fever with a rash

Watch the accompanying video to hear about some of the other serious symptoms to watch out for. This emergency care doctor explains that a headache and fever, combined with neck pain and stiffness requires a prompt medical evaluation. These symptoms could actually indicate meningitis, which is often misinterpreted by patients as being flu.

Understanding your risk factors
If you have a high risk of flu-related complications , your doctor may ask that you go to the ER soon after realizing you have the flu, rather than waiting for serious symptoms to develop. Patients at a high risk include:

  • Pregnant women
  • Women who gave birth within the previous two weeks
  • Children younger than five
  • Seniors ages 65 and older

Patients with certain medical conditions may also need early antiviral treatment for the flu, including the following:

  • Asthma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Kidney or liver disorders
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Endocrine disorders (including diabetes)
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Neurological and neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Morbid obesity

The emergency care doctors at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center are available 24/7 to provide rapid medical interventions. Las Vegas residents are urged to call 911 if they are experiencing a true medical emergency. Otherwise, a registered nurse at (702) 233-5300 can provide a physician referral.

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