Flu? When to seek help
If you are ill, you may be concerned about being exposed to very ill people in an emergency room or urgent care center. This is a valid concern but there are instances when flu complications can be serious and an ill person should seek medical care.
How do you know when an ill person should seek immediate medical treatment and when it’s best to stay home?
General guidelines about when to seek medical advice or call 911
- Call 911 if the ill person is having difficulty breathing or chest pain, has gray/blue skin or lips, is unable to move an arm or leg, is having a first-ever seizure, is not waking up or appears confused or unusually irritable, has signs of dehydration or has other symptoms which are worrisome.
- Call your health care provider or 911 for children with a temperature of 101°F or higher, or for adults with a temperature of 104°F or higher.
- If you are pregnant or have a chronic disease or condition and have influenza-like symptoms, contact your health care provider to determine if you need influenza testing or treatment.
- Seek advice for children and adults who have a fever that lasts more than five days or a fever that goes away and returns.
- Seek medical advice if the ill person has a severe or persistent cough or vomiting or appears dehydrated (thirsty, flushed face, dry mouth, rapid and deep breathing, fast or weak pulse, little or no urine or wet diapers, weakness, sleepiness or irritability, headache, sunken fontanel (soft spot) in infants).
- Seek medical advice if the ill person improves and then symptoms return.
- If you are very concerned, call 911.
For general guidance in a non-emergency situation
In a non-emergency situation, call your health care provider for advice, if possible. If your health care provider is flooded with callers, here are other options:
Call the Minnesota Department of Health’s toll-free Minnesota FluLine at 1-866-259-4655 for information and treatment options. The nurse line can provide information, prescribe an antiviral medication or recommend an evaluation at a clinic or hospital. There is no charge for calling the FluLine and it is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Last updated Oct. 29, 2012