What are Flu Complications?

Vaccination is your best protection against flu.

Vaccination is your best protection against flu. Infographic from www.mobilehealth.net

Did you know that even though you may be feeling better after having the flu that complications may still arise? This may be short lived and mild, to severe and long-term. One example of the most common flu complication is bronchitis. This stems from a bacterial infection that could lead to a long-term complication like pneumonia. Influenza induced pneumonia has reached epic proportions. Data for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stipulates a mortality rate of 55,227 for pneumonia caused by the flu. Knowing what to search for if you suspect you’ve developed a complication is vital. Here’s what you should be looking for.

  • Sinusitis – This occurs when your sinuses or tiny cavities behind your forehead and cheek bones become inflamed. Symptoms include a stuffy nose, halitosis, a high temperature, headaches, the inability to smell, and a nasal discharge. Be sure to see your doctor if your symptoms have not cleared within 10 days. Your doctor may administer corticosteroid in spray form, or antibiotics, and refer you to an ENT (Ear Nose and Throat) specialist if treatment does not help.
  • Tonsillitis – This complication is caused when your tonsils become severely inflamed. It’s often accompanied by a painful throat, earache, headaches, and a fever. It’s advisable to see your doctor for a prescription of antibiotics if your symptoms become worse, or does not improve after four days.
  • Encephalitis – This complication arises when your brain becomes inflamed. Be on the look out for flu symptoms such as escalated fever, achy joints, and headaches. See your doctor immediately if you experience fits, confusion, disorientation, and behavioral changes. This is a life threatening complication and if you are diagnosed with it, you should receive emergency treatment. Treatment includes steroid and anti-viral pharmaceuticals. You may also be given an immunosuppressant. It left untreated this condition could lead to epileptic fits and memory loss.
  • Seizures – Fits usually occur when a child has an uncontrollably high temperature. This is also called febrile convulsions. If your child loses consciousness, becomes stiff and has twitching limbs, be sure to position them in the recovery position, and get them to a hospital. Remember that there are simple and complex febrile seizures. A simple seizure occurs for less than 15 minutes, and a complex one lasts longer. These seizures can also occur as a result of tonsillitis.
  • Hyperglycemia– Practice extra caution if you are diabetic and have influenza, as a viral infection could spike your blood glucose levels. This applies to those suffering with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, as well as women with gestational diabetes. If your blood sugar levels are not reduced in time, you could develop life threatening conditions such as excessive dehydration, or Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA usually occurs if you have Type 1 diabetes. DKA often leads to a coma. Your healthcare practitioner will administer insulin to regulate your blood glucose levels.
  • The worsening of symptoms associated with COPDCOPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease occurs when you experience exercise-induced breathlessness, chest infections, and a severe wet cough. Be sure to keep your symptoms in check if you’ve had the flu. Your doctor may put you on an inhaler to ease your breathing, or administer pharmaceuticals. He or she may also recommend pulmonary rehabilitation. You will also be advised to stop smoking.
  • Otitis Media – Also known as a middle ear infection, this occurs when there is excessive fluid at the back of your eardrum. Look out for symptoms such as listlessness, fever, an aching ear, and a mild loss of hearing. See your doctor if your symptoms worsen.
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