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Can the Flu Cause Other Problems?

Complications of the Flu in Adults

Complications of the flu in adults can occur if they develop a bacterial infection, which can cause pneumonia in already weakened lungs. However, the flu virus alone can also cause pneumonia.
Complications of the flu usually appear after the patient starts to feel better. After a brief period of improvement, you may suddenly get symptoms, such as:
  • High fever
  • Shaking chills
  • Chest pain with each breath
  • Coughing that produces thick, yellow-green mucus.
Pneumonia can be a serious and sometimes life-threatening condition. If you have any of these symptoms, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately to get the appropriate treatment.

Complications of Flu in Children and Teenagers

Children and teenagers can develop the same flu complications as adults, and children are also at risk for developing Reye's syndrome.
Reye's syndrome is a condition that affects the nerves. It can develop in children and teenagers who are recovering from the flu. Although Reye's syndrome begins with nausea and vomiting, the progressive mental changes (such as confusion or delirium) cause the greatest concern. Reye's syndrome often begins in young people after they take aspirin to get rid of fever or pain. Although very few children develop Reye's syndrome, parents should consult a healthcare provider before giving aspirin or products that contain aspirin to children. Acetaminophen does not seem to be connected with Reye's syndrome.
Other complications of the flu that can affect children are:
  • Convulsions caused by fever
  • Croup
  • Ear infections, such as otitis media.
Newborn babies recently out of intensive care units are particularly vulnerable to suffering from flu complications.
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