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11 February 2014 Written by  Marcus Williams

How to Handle a Flu Emergency

What is a flu emergency? Normally, people recover from the flu after within a week or two. But sometimes, the flu can lead to dangerous complications that require emergency care. The CDC estimates that 200,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized because of the flu every year. 36, 000 thousand die from the flu annually. While infants, the elderly, and people with certain diseases or a weakened immune system tend to be the most vulnerable, a flu emergency can happen to anyone. Here are some flu emergency facts that you need to be aware of.

What Are Flu Emergencies?

Serious flu-related complications include:
• Pneumonia, an infection of the lungs. Pneumonia is one of the most serious complications of the flu. Untreated, it can be life threatening.
• Muscle inflammation (myositis)
• Central nervous system disease
• Heart problems such as heart attacks, inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis), and inflammation of the sac around the heart (pericarditis)
• Worsening of chronic medical conditions such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes
• Reye’s syndrome, which is a serious illness that occurs most often in children.

What Are Flu Emergency Symptoms?

If you, or your child, develop any of the following symptoms, contact your health care provider immediately, since medical treatment is often necessary.

• Coughing up blood- or green-tinged mucus; croup, which causes a loud barking cough
• Wheezing
• Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, or rapid breathing
• Pain or pressure in the chest
• Confusion
• Bluish colored lips or nails
• High fever that last longer than normal
• A constant cough that lasts longer than expected and/or worsens over time

Which People Are At Risk For Flu Emergencies?

Those at increased risk of flu-related complications include:
• Newborns and children up to 5 years old (especially children under the age of 2)
• People over 65
• Pregnant women
• People who live in long-term care facilities
• Caregivers of children or the ill
• People with chronic diseases such as asthma, neuromuscular disease, heart problems, or lung disease
• People who have depressed immune systems, either from disease or its treatment

How To Handle A Flu Emergency

If you or a family member suffer from any flu emergency symptoms, it is extremely important to either call a doctor immediately, or to go to the emergency room.