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When the Flu Becomes Dangerous

For most people, getting the flu means a few days of fever, chills, body aches, a sore throat, and fatigue. But for certain groups of people, the flu isn’t just more severe, it’s potentially deadly.



Who is at risk, and why?

The people groups most at risk are those whose immune systems are not fully developed, like infants and young children, or whose immune systems have become compromised. People with compromised immune systems include elderly adults, pregnant mothers, people who are obese and people with preexisting medical conditions.


What flu symptoms are considered “normal”?

Fever, chills, aches, sore throat, and a general feeling of overall ickiness are the most common signs of the flu. Other symptoms that are considered typical include:

  • Cough

  • Runny or stuffy nose

  • Headaches

  • Fatigue

  • Vomiting or diarrhea

  • Malaise


What flu symptoms should I be concerned about?

If you or a loved one are part of a people group that is at a higher risk for flu, you should know that some of the following symptoms are similar to typical symptoms of the flu. Other symptoms may not stand out as particularly dangerous to those of us with healthy immune systems, but like the flu itself, these symptoms can be deadly for people who are compromised.

  • Ear infections. Often caused by inflammation in the throat and inner ear, ear infections can develop into dangerous bacterial infections.

  • Sinusitis. Also known as a sinus infection, inflammation and fluid caused by the flu can lead to this condition, which can send a compromised immune system into a frenzy.

  • Worsening asthma. Asthma is caused by inflammation in the lungs and airways, which is why it’s not really surprising that the flu, which causes inflammation throughout the body, can lead to increased asthma symptoms. Untreated asthma can easily lead to serious complications and even death.

  • Pneumonia. Did you know the flu is one of the most common causes of pneumonia? It’s also a deadly combination. This disease cocktail can lead to inflammation and fluid build-up and reduce oxygen flow in the lungs and other body tissues.

  • Seizures. Like ear infections, children are at a greater risk for seizures during influenza than other people groups. Seizures during the flu are caused by high fever, which is why it is imperative to seek medical help when your child’s fever rises above 102°.

  • Premature birth. The flu isn’t just dangerous for expectant mothers, who are at a greater risk for developing pneumonia and other serious illness. Respiratory illnesses like pneumonia are linked to low birth weight and children born to mothers with flu accompanied by fever are at a greater risk for defects of the brain and spine.

When should I seek medical help for flu symptoms?

It’s difficult to distinguish some typical flu symptoms from those that are more serious. However, serious complications often display symptoms that are not common with the flu. You should seek medical help in the event of any of the following symptoms:

  • Long-lasting high fever that won’t go away with medication.

  • Seizures

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Severe and persistent vomiting

  • Dizziness

  • Skin that appears bluish or gray

  • Dehydration. Symptoms in children include lack of energy, decreased urine, and absence of tears while crying.

  • Lethargy, listlessness, and irritability in infants and young children.

MedPlus not only treats the flu, but we also help you reduce your risk of getting the flu through the flu vaccine. Getting the flu shot doesn’t always prevent the flu, but it does cut the length of illness time, reduces symptoms and may just save your life.

MedPlus is open until 7 pm seven days a week because we know that sicknesses like the flu don’t take a day off. If you’re sick, MedPlus is here for you. Shorten your wait time by checking in now directly from the website.

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