How can I tell if someone has become suddenly ill?

American Red Cross
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

Continue Learning about Wellness



Wellness is a difficult word to define. Traditionally wellness has meant the opposite of illness and the absence of disease and disability. More recently wellness has come to describe something that you have personal control over. ...

Wellness is now a word used to describe living the best possible life you can regardless of whether you have a disease or disability. Your wellness is not only related to your physical health, but is a combination of things including spiritual wellness, social wellness, mental wellness and emotional wellness. Wellness is seen as a combination of mind, body and spirit. Different people may have different ideas about wellness. There is no single set standard for wellness and wellness is a difficult thing to quantify.

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.