Are You More Likely To Develop Flu Complications?

Influenza, or the flu, disrupts the daily lives of millions of people each year. Most cases resolve themselves in a few days, with symptoms such as fever, congestion, fatigue, and body aches. But for certain patients, influenza can become a devastating or even fatal illness. The 2019-2020 flu season killed an estimated 25,000 people in the United States. The following groups of people are at higher risk for flu complications and should visit a local flu care center if their symptoms persist or worsen.

Young Children

Young children are more vulnerable to the flu and more likely to be exposed to it through schools and playgrounds. Children under a few years old typically cannot receive flu vaccinations as well. Younger immune systems are less able to fight off the virus, which is why children often experience more severe flu symptoms. For these reasons, parents must take care to protect their children from flu exposure and monitor their recovery.

Pregnant Women

Pregnant women's bodies change in many ways, including their immune systems. During pregnancy, the immune system grows weaker to prevent it from attacking the fetus. Unfortunately, this also leaves pregnant women at a disadvantage versus the flu virus. Severe illness risks both mother and fetus, so don't hesitate to seek flu treatment if you're expecting and feeling sick.

Patients with Immune System Deficiencies

On a similar note, anyone with a weakened immune system should take extra precautions during flu season. Specific medications, genetic disorders, or long-term diseases can all suppress the immune system, paving the way for influenza. Immunocompromised people may benefit from vaccination, wearing a mask, and social distancing through the flu season to avoid the disease or minimize its impact.

People with Chronic Respiratory or Circulatory Disorders

Diseases like the flu target a patient's airways, and the body's immune response often inflames passages or blocks them up with mucus. This is what leads to runny noses and itchy coughs while sick. But for people who suffer from asthma, heart disease, chronic lung disease, and similar disorders, a cough can be dangerous. For example, influenza can trigger asthma attacks and shut down airways. 

Elderly Patients

Seniors are more likely to develop flu complications, including conditions like pneumonia. Additionally, flu patients see a greater risk of heart attack and stroke following their illness. Elderly patients should always receive a flu vaccine when possible. And if you or your elderly loved one undergo a persistent fever, heavy cough, or extreme fatigue, speak to a doctor or go to your local flu care center as quickly as possible for further treatment.