Flu – Causes, Symptoms, Complications, and ER Treatment
Flu is a common respiratory illness caused by the flu virus. It can cause mild to severe illness and usually comes on suddenly, sometimes without warning. Most people experiencing the illness will usually recover in two weeks or less.
Flu is different from the common cold. While a cold is a mild respiratory illness and its symptoms can make you feel bad for a few days, flu is much more serious. It can make you feel ill for a few days to a week or longer, and it can lead to serious health issues like pneumonia.
Flu symptoms can be severe and usually come on suddenly. Most symptoms will gradually improve in two to five days but it is not unusual to feel rundown for a week or longer. Below are a few common symptoms of flu.
Muscle aches and soreness
Fatigue (tiredness) and weakness
Runny or stuffy nose
Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults)
Note: Not everyone with the illness will have a fever
One common complication is pneumonia, especially in the elderly, young or those with lung or heart problems. Another complication is a fever that returns after it has been gone for a day or two.
Other serious complications include sinus and ear infections, inflammation of the heart, brain, or muscle tissues, and organ failure
Flu infection of the respiratory tract can also lead to sepsis – the body’s response to life-threatening infections.
People at Risk of flu
Anybody can get the virus, including healthy people, and flu related issues can occur at any age but some people are at greater risk of developing flu complications if they get the virus. These people include:
People over 65 years old
Children younger than 5 years (especially those 2 years and younger)
People with certain medical conditions (asthma, diabetes, or heart disease)
Flu Emergency Warning Signs
Trouble breathing or fast breathing
Fever (especially with rash)
Not interacting with other children
Not waking up as usual
Being irritable and refusing to be held
Not drinking enough fluids
Pressure or pain in the chest
Pain or pressure in the abdomen
Dizziness (especially sudden dizziness
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Symptoms that improve but return a few days later with a fever and worsening cough
In addition to these emergency signs, take your infant or child to the nearest emergency room immediately if he/she has the following symptoms:
Unable to eat
Crying but no tears
Fewer wet diapers than normal
SignatureCare Emergency Center has 24-hour emergency rooms throughout Texas including many locations in Houston as well as in Austin, Midland, Odessa, Paris, Texarkana, Killeen, College Station, Stafford and Mission Bend/Sugar Land.