When To Go to the Emergency Room With Flu

While most cases of the flu are mild and can be managed at home with rest and over-the-counter remedies, there are critical moments when a decision to visit the emergency room becomes necessary. In this article, we will delve into the important topic of when to go to the emergency room for the flu, allowing you to make informed decisions about seeking immediate medical attention for yourself or a family member during flu season. Understanding when a trip to a healthcare facility is warranted can make all the difference in ensuring a safe and speedy recovery, so let’s get started. 

What is the Flu? 

The flu, short for influenza, is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. The flu can vary in severity, from mild to severe, and in some cases, it can lead to hospitalization or even death, particularly in vulnerable populations like the elderly, young children, and individuals with compromised immune systems.

When is Flu Season? 

Flu season typically occurs during the fall and winter months in the Northern Hemisphere, with the peak usually happening between December and February. However, the exact timing and severity of the flu season can vary from year to year. It’s important to note that while the flu virus is more active and spreads more easily during these colder months, it can still be contracted at any time of the year.


Following the preventive measures below can significantly reduce your risk of contracting and spreading the flu virus. Our team recommends the following: 

  • Getting a flu vaccination
  • Frequently washing your hands 
  • Avoiding contact with sick individuals
  • Staying home to prevent spreading the virus to others
  • Covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • Cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces
  • Avoiding touching your face
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle 

Flu Symptoms

Here are a few common flu symptoms to keep an eye out for! Flu symptoms may typically include:

  • High Fever or Feeling Feverish
  • Chills and Shivering
  • Cough or Sneezing
  • Sore Throat
  • Runny or Stuffy Nose
  • Muscle or Body Aches
  • Fatigue and Weakness
  • Headache
  • Watery or Red Eyes
  • Nausea, Vomiting, and Diarrhea

It’s important to note that the severity of these symptoms can vary from person to person, and some individuals may experience a milder form of the flu while others may develop more severe complications.

When to Go to the Emergency Room With Flu?

While most cases of the flu can be managed at home with rest and fluids, there are certain situations where it is advisable to seek immediate medical attention by going to the emergency room. Emergency warning signs that may require emergency treatment include:

Difficulty Breathing

If you experience trouble breathing, fast breathing, or shortness of breath, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical help.

Chest Pain or Pressure

Chest pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen can indicate a more serious respiratory condition or flu-related complications, such as pneumonia. Don’t ignore it; seek medical attention promptly.

Severe Dehydration

If you’re unable to keep fluids down due to vomiting or diarrhea and become severely dehydrated (signs may include extreme thirst, dry mouth, dark urine, or dizziness), you should go to the ER for intravenous (IV) fluids.

Confusion or Altered Mental State

The flu can sometimes lead to confusion, disorientation, or altered mental status, especially in elderly individuals. Seek medical attention if you or someone you’re caring for experiences these symptoms.

High Fever with Persistent Symptoms

If you have a high fever (above 104°F or 40°C) that doesn’t respond to over-the-counter fever reducers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen and your symptoms are severe or worsening or improve but then return, it’s wise to visit the ER.

Underlying Health Conditions

Individuals with chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, or compromised immune systems are at higher risk of flu-related complications. If they contract the flu and their symptoms worsen, they should seek medical attention promptly.

Concern for Children 

Parents should be especially cautious with young children. If a child has difficulty breathing, a high fever with a rash, severe ear pain, or persistent vomiting, it’s advisable to seek emergency care.

Most people with the flu can recover with rest and supportive care at home, but it’s crucial to be vigilant about seeking help when necessary, especially if you or a loved one is at risk for complications. If in doubt, consult with a healthcare provider or call your local healthcare hotline for guidance on the appropriate course of action.

Rely on Your Neighbors

At Neighbors Emergency Center, we understand that the flu can take a serious toll on your body, and when it comes to severe flu symptoms, time is of the essence. Our dedicated team of healthcare professionals is ready to provide the immediate care and attention you or your loved ones may need. Whether it’s addressing breathing difficulties, severe dehydration, chest pain, or any other concerning symptoms, our state-of-the-art facilities are equipped to handle flu-related emergencies with compassion and expertise. Learn more about our services or find a location near you by visiting our website