How should I care for someone with a sudden illness?

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Care for sudden illnesses by following the same general guidelines as you would for any emergency:
  • Do no further harm.
  • Check the scene for safety and then check the person.
  • First care for life-threatening conditions such as unconsciousness; trouble breathing; no breathing; severe bleeding; severe chest pain; or signs of a stroke, such as weakness, numbness, or trouble with speech.
  • Help the person to rest comfortably.
  • Keep the person from getting chilled or overheated.
  • Reassure the person because he or she may be anxious or frightened.
  • Watch for changes in consciousness and breathing.
  • If the person is conscious, ask if he or she has any medical conditions or is taking any medication.
  • Do not give the person anything to eat or drink unless he or she is fully conscious, is able to swallow, and does not show any signs of a stroke.
  • If the person vomits and is unconscious and lying down, position the person on his or her side so that you can clear the mouth.
  • If you know the person is having a severe allergic reaction or a diabetic emergency, assist the person with his or her prescribed medication, if asked.

Continue Learning about First Aid For Medical Emergencies & Conditions

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.