How can I tell if someone has become suddenly ill?



When a person becomes suddenly ill, he or she usually looks and feels sick. Common signs are:

  • Changes in level of consciousness, such as feeling lightheaded, dizzy, drowsy or confused, or becoming unconscious
  • Breathing problems (i.e., trouble breathing or no breathing)
  • Signs of a possible heart attack, including persistent chest pain, discomfort or pressure lasting more than a few minutes that goes away and comes back or that spreads to the shoulder, arm, neck, jaw, stomach or back
  • Signs of a stroke, including sudden weakness on one side of the face (facial droop), sudden weakness, often on one side of the body, sudden slurred speech or trouble forming words, or a sudden, severe headache.
  • Loss of vision or blurred vision
  • Signs of shock, including rapid breathing, changes in skin appearance and cool, pale or ashen (grayish) skin
  • Sweating
  • Persistent abdominal pain or pressure
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures

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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.