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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

When to seek medical care

If you become ill with influenza-like symptoms, which may include symptoms such as fever, body aches, sore throat, chills, runny or stuffy nose, nausea or vomiting, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people. It is important to remember that you may have the flu even if you have only a few symptoms or your symptoms are mild.

If you have severe illness or you are at high risk for complications of the flu, contact your doctor or seek medical care.

Emergency care should not be necessary unless you become seriously ill. However, if you are at high-risk for complications, you should contact your doctor or seek medical care as soon as you notice symptoms. Your healthcare provider will determine whether you should be tested and treated for the flu.

Watch for the following warning signs and seek emergency medical care if they occur

In children, emergency warning signs that require urgent medical care include:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish or gray skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Not waking up or interacting normally
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough

In adults, emergency warnings signs that require urgent medical care include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough
Last UpdateFebruary 8, 2011
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