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5 Other Illnesses the Flu Can Cause

family sitting on a couch with tissue boxes

If you’ve ever come down with the flu, you know that it’s no fun. But things can get even worse, as the flu has a nasty habit of causing even more harm in the form of accompanying illnesses. Of the 20 percent of Americans that get the flu each year, more than 200,000 of them get hospitalized due to flu-related complications. The flu can knock you off your feet, deteriorating the quality of your life and can make you feel completely drained. That’s why it’s important to get your seasonal flu vaccination as soon as flu season starts. If you skip the flu vaccination and get infected, you also have a chance of developing the following:

1) Pneumonia

One of the major complications caused by influenza, pneumonia, can be fatal. Signs of pneumonia include fatigue, fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Pneumonia can develop five days after contracting the flu and about 90 percent of the deaths from pneumonia are adults 65 years and older. Very young children, under the age of two, are also at higher risk of developing the condition.

2) Bronchitis

Bronchitis is the inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes that carry air to and from the lungs. Signs of Bronchitis are a mild fever, chills, cough and chest tightness. Usually, rest, water and over-the-counter medications are all that’s necessary to clear up a case of Bronchitis. However, a cough that doesn’t let you sleep properly, produce strangely colored mucus, blood or lasts longer than three weeks should receive immediate medical attention.

3) Sinusitis

Sinusitis is the inflammation of the sinuses found in airways. It can cause postnasal drip, sore throat, headache, nasal congestion or pain in the face, area around the eyes, jaw or even teeth. Severe conditions will require treatment with antibiotics but most cases are treated with over-the-counter decongestants.

4) Ear Infections

An ear infection, also referred to as Otitis Media, is the swelling and infection of the middle ear. Ranging from mild to severe, ear infections can accompany both common cold and the flu. Children are more likely than adults to develop ear infections. Symptoms include pain in the ear, diminished hearing and drainage of fluid from the ear.

5) Dehydration

The flu can indirectly lead to dehydration because of the symptoms associated with it. If you’re suffering from a runny nose, feverish sweat, diarrhea or vomiting, it is important to drink as many fluids as possible to stay hydrated. In addition to that, illness can often make people not want to eat or drink, which can lead to dehydration. The symptoms of dehydration are a dry, sticky mouth, thirst, decreased urine output, headache, sleepiness and dizziness. While most cases of dehydration are fixed by simply drinking fluids, some cases require a visit to the doctor. Children and the elderly are at greater risk of severe dehydration and should be taken to a doctor if they’re suffering from diarrhea for more than 24 hours or can’t keep down fluids.

 

The following are the factors that make people at risk for developing these complications.

 

Living Conditions:
Residents who live together and share facilities like nursing homes and military barracks are at higher risk for developing the flu and flu-related complications.

Age
Young children and older adults are at a higher risk to develop flu-related complications.

Obesity
People with BMI greater than 40 are considered obese and have higher chances of developing flu-related complications.

Weak Immune System
People with weakened immune system due to medication or medical condition are likely to suffer from the flu and flu-related complications.

Chronic Illnesses
People suffering from chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease are at a higher risk to suffer from complications caused by flu.