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Don’t Let the Flu Get the Best of You: Complications

We’ve already covered the basics and treatment options for the flu. Today, we are going to close this three-part series with the complications that are often associated with the flu.

Just like any illness, there can be complications, especially for the elderly.

Did you know that of all of the age groups, people who are older than 84 have the greatest risk of dying from seasonal flu complications? Those older than 74 face the second greatest risk.

With that said, let’s delve into some of the most common complications:

  • Sinus and ear infections
  • Bronchitis – irritation of the mucous membranes of the bronchi located in the lungs
  • Pneumonia – a bacterial infection that causes the lungs to become inflamed
  • Heart problems, including heart attacks, inflammation of the sac around the heart, inflammation of the heart muscle
  • Muscle inflammation
  • Dehydration
  • Extended recovery time
  • Worsening of chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
  • Encephalitis – This is a very rare condition that occurs when a flu virus inhabits the brain tissue and causes swelling of the brain. Encephalitis can lead to the destruction of nerve cells, brain damage and bleeding in the brain.

Complications will often appear as the main symptoms of the flu are beginning to wear off.

Although some people will experience some of these symptoms, there are ways to potentially prevent complications from the flu. Early treatment is perhaps the most effective, because most of these problems respond well to treatment.

If you or your loved one is experiencing any of the aforementioned complications, it’s important that you seek immediate medical care. The sooner you begin treating these symptoms the faster you can get back on the road to recovery.

Note: If you have yet to receive a flu shot this year, it’s not too late! Visit our medical center to get yours today. No appointment is necessary.

Sources:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/flu/basics/complications/con-20035101

http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/flu-guide/flu-complications#3

http://www.healthline.com/health/flu-complications#High-RiskGroups2

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St. Barnabas Health System
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