The flu virus can cause a lot of complications. They can include pericarditis (inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart), myocarditis (heart muscle inflammation), heart attack, central nervous system disease, myositis (inflammation of the muscles) and bacterial or viral pneumonia.
Moreover, sinus infections and ear infections, particularly in children can come about because of the flu as well as the aggravation of chronic medical conditions like diabetes, asthma, or congestive heart failure.
Children in the age range of 6 months old to 4 years old and adults over 50 years old are at highest risk for flu complications. Other influenza risk groups include pregnant women, people with problematic immune systems (including individuals with AIDS/HIV), children and adults with lung or heart disease and residents in nursing homes.
Pneumonia complication brought about by influenza is quite common and can be a very serious complication. This complication can come about due to the influenza virus directly affecting the lung or when a bacterial infection arises during the course of the flu. Regardless if you have bacterial or viral pneumonia, the flu can make you seriously ill that may potentially involve hospitalization.
Pneumonia can cause a number of symptoms such as bluish colored nails or lips due to oxygen deficiency, increased pulse, coughing with bloody or green mucus, sweating, chest pains, fever and chills. Besides these, pneumonia can also cause sharp pains in the chest when one takes a deep breath, and shortness of breath. At times, elderly adults will only have pneumonia symptoms like pain in the stomach. When bacterial infection arises along with the flu, the symptoms may first improve and later on worsen with increased coughing, higher fevers and the production of a greenish tinge in sputum.
If a flu sufferer has persistent fever or cough or if he also suffers from chest pains or shortness of breath, he needs to be seen by his physician. The doctor may recommend tests like a sputum exam and chest X-ray that can assist him into making the correct pneumonia diagnosis. Antibiotics can be potent in treating bacterial pneumonia but it is useless with viral pneumonia.
Pneumonia can affect individuals for a couple of weeks. It can even last longer in individuals with weakened immune systems (like asthma or COPD), elderly adults and young children. When pneumonia strikes healthy people, they feel so weak or tired for months even after the lungs have cleared up.
If a person has difficulty in the breathing and has high fever, he needs to see his doctor immediately. Some other notable severe symptoms can include:
- Chest pains
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid breathing
- Breathing difficulty
- Coughing producing blood-tinged mucus from the lungs
- Fever with chills
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