Millions of people get infected with flu virus each year around the world. Prognosis is good in most people with flu. They improve within a week or two, but some people may develop complications or even die.
Complications may occur in any person with flu, but some people are at a higher risk of developing complications. The risk of complications from the flu is higher in:
- people older than 50 years
- young children (between 6 months and 2 years)
- pregnant women (especially in women who have been pregnant for more than 3 months)
- residents of long-term care facility
- people with any chronic disease, such as chronic heart disease, asthma and other chronic lung disease or kidney conditions (such as renal failure, end stage renal disease), chronic liver disease (such as cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis), diabetes or a weakened immune system (either due to a disease, medication or treatment),
Complications of flu
Some common complications of flu are:
- Pneumonia: The risk of viral or bacterial pneumonia increases in people with flu infection. It is a serious complication of flu, which may make one quiet ill and may require hospitalisation. Pneumonia may occur because of an infection of the lungs with flu virus or secondary infection with bacteria during the course of the flu. In a person, who develops pneumonia, symptoms of flu (such fever, cough, difficulty in breathing, chest pain) may become worse.
- Ear Infections: In some people, the infection may spread to the space behind the eardrum and cause ear infection. Most people with ear infections need symptomatic treatment (pain relief medication such as ibuprofen), but if the infection is severe, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
- Sinus Infections: If the infection involves the sinuses, it is known as sinusitis. In a healthy sinus, the mucus drains well, but if the sinus is infected, it can lead to mucus build-up and may lead to bacterial growth and infection.
- Dehydration: Dehydration often complicates flu. It may be caused because of inadequate fluid intake or the loss of fluids because of vomiting and diarrhoea.
- Worsening of chronic medical conditions: In people with chronic conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes, flu infection can worsen the condition.
Consult your doctor if your symptoms (such as fever, cough) do not improve after a few days or if the symptoms worsen.