Influenza is a common infection that affects around 5 to 20% of individuals in United States each year. While this infection affecting the upper respiratory tract is not serious in most cases, in some cases flu complications may be observed. The complications can result in around 200,000 cases each year and in rare cases deaths may also be observed. Statistics indicate that around 3000 to 49000 individuals die from complications related to flu each year. The key to treating flu is to starting medication in the initial 48 hours following the onset of symptoms. It is also important to understand that antibiotics are not effective in treating flu infections as the flu is caused by viruses and not bacteria.
The flu complications tend to arise when the virus invade the lungs from the upper respiratory tract. The typical symptoms associated with flu include fever which may be around 102 degrees F or even higher, cough, tiredness, sore throat, headache, body ache, runny or stuffy nose and diarrhea as well as vomiting which is likely to occur in children. The most common complication that can occur following a case of flu includes bacteria or viral pneumonia. A case of pneumonia or chest infection can be resolved through antibiotics course. In case of elderly individuals such a case of pneumonia or chest infection can have life threatening consequences. The possibility of pneumonia is often observed in cases of individuals with lowered immunity due to conditions like AIDS and very young children. Complications like pneumonia may also be observed in hospitalized patients and drug abusers.
In case of children flu complications may include central nervous system problems. One of the possible complications among children includes febrile seizures. Other possible complications associated with flu infection include sinus infection, dehydration, asthma, ear infection etc. It is important to seek prompt medical attention if the patient experiences high fever and this is accompanied with problems in breathing. Other serious symptoms that may require immediate medical attention include fever accompanied with shaking chills, problems in breathing or rapid or slow breathing, coughing of mucus tinged with blood, chest pains and wheezing. Other extremely rare complications that can occur in case of flu patients include encephalitis which is inflammation of brain, meningitis which is infection in brain as well as spinal cord and otitis media wherein build up of fluid within the ear may be observed. Reye’s syndrome is also one of the complications that can develop from flu among children and this occurs after ingesting aspirin and may manifest through severe vomiting leading to brain swelling, coma and eventual death. It is therefore important that children are not given aspirin. Worsening of diabetes may also be observed among diabetics having the flu virus. Elderly individuals having preexisting cardiovascular problems may also experience flu complications in rare cases like pericarditis or myucarditis. Likewise increased amount of myoglobin within the urine among children can result in acute renal dysfunction in some cases. Timely treatment is therefore extremely critical so as to ensure that complication do not occur.
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