It’s no secret that the flu can be a life-threatening ordeal, with at least 53 children tragically dying so far this season, alone. Older adults are also at a high risk, with specific warning signs holding the power to help prevent serious illness and death.
Most people get over the flu in just days, but there are some serious — potentially fatal cases. So, it’s smart to understand the symptoms and use discernment if any questionable problems emerge.
The CDC offers up some of the potential symptoms:
- Fever, or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
The problem with the flu is that it can breed pneumonia, ear infections, bronchitis and other more serious illnesses. Sadly, young kids and adults aged 65 and older are at a greater risk of developing these complications.
That’s why doctors are recommending the flu vaccination; it’s also why parents need to be extra diligent in watching their children’s symptoms throughout the illness; this is especially true for any kids under the age of five.
“Children younger than 5 years and especially those younger than 2 years are at high risk of serious influenza complications,” a CDC explainer reads. “Children of any age with chronic health problems like asthma, diabetes and disorders of the brain or nervous system also are at high risk of serious flu complications.”
So, what are the complications to look for? According to Dr. Erik Schobitz, a pediatric emergency doctor at Shady Grove Medical Center in Rockville, Maryland, paying attention to any respiratory issues is key.
“If you have the real flu, you’re going to be sick for a week to a week and a half,” Schobitz told WTOP-TV, noting that fast breathing and belly breathing should set off alarm bells. “You see [it’s] almost like a seesaw — their belly pops up and their chest caves in with each breath.”
There are plenty of other warning signs as well, including not drinking enough fluids, irritability that leads a child to not want to be held, not waking up, bluish skin, a fever with a rash — and improved symptoms that come as a fever and cough worsen.
Read all about the symptoms here.