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Flu complications

Flu symptoms can make otherwise healthy people take to their sick bed until they start to feel better - but for some people, flu poses a risk of serious complications that can even be life-threatening.

Each year in the UK, hundreds of people die from the complications of seasonal flu.

What are flu complications?

Flu is caused by viruses - but the complications can be bacterial infections, including chest infections. Flu complications include:

Who has a greater chance of flu complications?

People with a higher chance of flu complications include:

  • Older people
  • People with long-term health conditions
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • Young children
  • Pregnant women.

Preventing flu complications

People who are at risk of flu complications will be offered the annual flu jab, usually through their GP. They may also be offered the one-off pneumonia vaccine to protect against pneumonia infections.

People who have not been protected, but have been exposed to flu may be offered antiviral medication to help reduce symptoms.

When should I seek medical advice about flu complications?

If there is a fever, trouble breathing, chest pain or other concerns - seek medical advice about flu complications.

Treatment for flu complications

A doctor will first diagnose the condition based on the symptoms and a physical examination.

Although antibiotics don’t work for flu, they are effective against bacterial infections, including pneumonia.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on November 08, 2016

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