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Caring for Someone Sick at Home

Know The Emergency Warning Signs

This website is archived for historical purposes and is no longer being maintained or updated. For updated information on the current flu season, see the CDC Seasonal Flu website.

January 12, 2010, 5:00 PM ET

There are "emergency warning signs" that should signal anyone to seek medical care urgently.

Seek Care If The Sick Person Has ANY Of The Signs Below.man holding chest

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting (vomiting that goes on)
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough

In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Fast breathing or working hard to breathe
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash
  • Being unable to eat
  • Having no tears when crying

In addition to the signs above, get medical help right away for any infant who has any of these signs:

  • Being unable to eat
  • Has trouble breathing
  • Having no tears when crying
 
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