It sneaks up to you with something that seems as a simple cough. That cough is later joined by sore throat, chills, fever and body aches. It usually lasts no more than a week if you treat it properly. Lying in bed and eating warm chicken soup is often enough. That is the most common outcome, but not the only one. Some people experience more severe illness, while some even never recover. Every year, between 250 000 and 500 000 people die as a result of annual flu epidemic. Many of them could have been saved if only they have known the warning signs of a common flue becoming dangerous. Here are some things you must be aware when it comes to flu.
There Are Risk Groups
Not all people are equally vulnerable to flu virus. There are especially vulnerable populations, and if you are in one of them, you should be even more careful at the first glance of flu symptoms. Children are the first of those populations, because their immune system is still developing, and thus cannot give an appropriate answer to virus attack. The immune systems of seniors, on the other side are weakened and their efficiency is gradually decreasing, which prevents them to react as they should when faced with influenza. Pregnant women’s immune systems are going through some major changes which makes them vulnerable to severe illness. People suffering chronic diseases are also at risk for complications.
There Are Different Types
Not all flu types are the same. Some of them are more dangerous than others. The most severe one is Type A. Type A Virus can be found in animals and in people. Still, people are the ones experiencing all the harmful effects, while animals are usually hosts. This type was the cause of the swine and bird flu pandemic. Type B virus can infect only humans and in some cases it can have serious symptoms, while type C is usually not linked with dangerous conditions.
There Are Warning Signs
Now, you do not have to go to this battle unarmed. If you know the symptoms that are pointing out to dangers, you will face the flu season much easier. The warning signs are somewhat different for adults and for children, though. Symptoms that are common to kids and adults are severe vomiting, troubles in breathing, shortened breath and fever that comes and goes. Symptoms characteristic for children are bluish or grey skin, difficulty in waking up, being irritable and avoiding drinking fluids. Adults can experience pain and pressure in the chest and abdomen, confusion and sudden dizziness. Many of these signs require 24 hour urgent care.
There Are Complications
Sometimes the flu does not have to be especially severe in order to cause some severe complications, especially for people who are already in some of the risk populations. Expecting mothers, for instance, can face a lot of problems such as respiratory problems which can lead to preterm birth and low birth weight. Children can suffer ear infections caused directly or indirectly by influenza, but they are also sensitive to neurological problems which can cause seizures. Sinus infections can affect all the sensitive groups, while pneumonia is common in seniors, especially if they are living in nursing homes. People suffering chronic diseases can experience worsening of their symptoms. That is especially possible with asthma patients that are becoming more sensitive to allergens and other asthma triggers when faced with influenza.
Some symptoms are just too severe to lie back and wait for them to go away. Knowing the line between the chicken-soup-curable and the professional-care-needed flu can be an actual lifesaver.