When Does The Flu Become An Emergency Condition?

Fact Checked

A flu may seem harmless, because most of the time, it is indeed harmless. Sick patients usually recover days or weeks after the flu started without any complications. But there are instances

when flu can develop more severe complications that lead to emergency care. At this point, your body cannot fight the flu virus on its own because it has advanced to a more advanced stage that could further weaken the body’s immune system, making it vulnerable to develop complications. 

Distinguishing Normal Flu Symptoms From Symptoms That Require Emergency Care

Helping with the Flu
Distinguishing between whether the flu needs emergency care or not can be difficult.

The first step to determine that flu requires emergency attention is to make clear distinctions between normal symptoms and flu that has severe symptoms. Normal symptoms of flu include the following:

  • Elevated temperature
  • Dizziness and headaches
  • Body malaise
  • Sore throat
  • Cough and cold
  • Runny nose

When flu has become prolonged, it could weaken the lungs, allowing bacterial infections and viruses to easily penetrate the immune system. At this point, it is important to carefully pay attention to the symptoms of flu you are likely to experience. Flu symptoms that require immediate emergency care include the following:

  • Elevated temperature that does not go away even after taking medications
  • Wheezing sound when breathing
  • Breathing problems, such as shortness/tightness of breath, rapid and shallow breathing and breathing difficulties
  • Pain or tightness sensation in the chest
  • Fever that causes chills and convulsions
  • Confusion and severe body weakness
  • Presence of blood or overly sticky mucus when coughing, which produces loud, barking sound

The best thing to do when any of these symptoms become present is to seek emergency medical assistance as soon as possible. It indicates that your flu has caused serious complications that cannot be treated at home with medications and simple rest.

Who Are The Population At Risk For Experiencing Flu Emergencies?

Age and physical status are the common reasons why immune system becomes vulnerable to flu-related complications. The following people are more at risk for flu emergencies:

  • Pregnant women who cannot take flu medications
  • People ages 65 and above who have weak immune systems
  • Newborns and children under 5 years old
  • Patients who have chronic diseases
  • Patients who are immunocompromised, because of certain medications and medical conditions

Why Do We Need To Seek Emergency Care?

People who have experienced severe flu symptoms are more likely to develop complications including pneumonia, severe respiratory diseases and other cardiovascular problems. Once you have suspected one or more of the following severe symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

Where To Learn More?

To learn more about recognizing and managing serious emergencies such as fever’s in children enrol in a first aid and CPR course with a workplace recognized provider in your area. Visit our locations page to find a provider near you.


PAMED. “Is the Flu a Reason to Go to the Emergency Room?” Retrieved online on June 2, 2013 from PAMED

BAPTIST HEALTH. “When do you seek emergency treatment for the flu.” Retrieved online on June 2, 2013 from BAPTIST HEALTH

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