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When should I go to the emergency room (ER) for flu symptoms?

You don't need to go to the emergency room, or ER, for flu symptoms (muscle aches, headache, fever, and chills) unless you are pregnant, elderly, very young (infants and toddlers), or have a condition that weakens your immune system. Regardless of age or health conditions, these individuals are at a higher risk of complications from the influenza virus, and there are medications that can reduce the serious problems of influenza.

Dr. Alan Young, MD
Family Practitioner

You should go to the emergency room (ER) for flu symptoms if you have trouble breathing, chest pain and dizziness. It’s also advisable to be seen in the ER if you have a temperature over 104. Lower than that, and otherwise not having shortness of breath or chest pain, it would be advisable to call the doctor's office.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider.

You should go to the emergency room (ER) for flu symptoms (cough, fever, chills, body aches) if you are elderly and have comorbidities. Very young children and pregnant women should also go to the ER for flu symptoms. There is an anti-viral medication that can be prescribed in the ER for this target population that's not going to make the flu go away completely, but it's going to decrease the duration of symptoms, making people feel better about a day quicker. When young, healthy people get the flu they only need time, hydration and antipyretics for fever, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

You should go to the emergency room if your flu symptoms include anything considered life-threatening (like chest pain or sudden and severe pain). For less severe matters that still require immediate attention, if you can’t get in to see your primary care physician (PCP), going to an urgent care facility can save you time and money.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider.

Unless you have serious symptoms not usually associated with the flu such as severe abdominal pain or persistent vomiting, it’s best to stay out of the emergency room. There are a lot of other very vulnerable people in the emergency department. If you go and infect them with influenza, they’re going to do a whole lot worse. If there are a lot of people in the emergency department who have flu symptoms and pass them around to one another, an outbreak could develop very quickly in the community.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.