Flu - Outlook

For most people, fluA viral infection affecting the respiratory system. infectionInvasion by organisms that may be harmful, for example bacteria or parasites. is a transient (that is, temporary), if highly unpleasant, condition. For some people, though, it can be a devastating and life-threatening condition.

Those most vulnerable to more severe illness include older people, infants and anyone with underlying conditions such as kidney problems, heart failureFailure of the heart to pump adequately. or diabetes mellitusDisordered energy metabolism and high levels of glucose in the blood owing to a lack of insulin, or poor response of the body to insulin..[1,2]

People who have a suppressed immune systemThe organs specialised to fight infection., either due to a medical condition or because of medications they are taking - for example, after an organ transplant - are also at higher risk.[2]

Finally, a healthy lifestyle may protect against influenzaA viral infection affecting the respiratory system.. People who are well-nourished may have less severe fluA viral infection affecting the respiratory system. infectionInvasion by organisms that may be harmful, for example bacteria or parasites. than those who are not.[3] Similarly, people who take regular exercise have been shown to be have lower rates of fluA viral infection affecting the respiratory system.-related death.[4]

Complications

In people who are susceptible for whatever reason, the possible complications of fluA viral infection affecting the respiratory system. can be severe and highly varied. In fact, fluA viral infection affecting the respiratory system. may trigger the acuteHas a sudden onset. inflammationThe body’s response to injury. of any of the following:[5,6,7]

  • The lungs (pneumoniaInflammation of one or both lungs.)
  • The muscles (myositisOne of a group of diseases leading to inflammation of the muscles. )
  • The middle ear (otitis mediaInflammation of the middle ear, the chamber of the ear that lies behind the eardrum. )
  • The tracheaThe windpipe. and bronchiAny of the main air pipes beyond the windpipe, or trachea, which have cartilage in their wall., or upper airways (tracheobronchitisInflammation of the windpipe (trachea) and any of the main airways beyond the trachea that have cartilage in their walls (bronchi).)
  • The brain (encephalitisInflammation of the brain.)
  • The sinusesMay describe the air spaces within a bone, or wide channels within the body that contain blood (usually venous blood). (acuteHas a sudden onset. sinusitisInflammation of one or more of the sinuses, air spaces within the facial bones.)
  • The membranes enclosing the heart, called the pericardiumThe sac surrounding the heart. (pericarditisInflammation of the sac surrounding the heart (the pericardium).)

The most common complicationA condition that is linked to, or is a consequence of, another disease or procedure. of fluA viral infection affecting the respiratory system. infectionInvasion by organisms that may be harmful, for example bacteria or parasites. is pneumoniaInflammation of one or both lungs.. This might be viral, bacterial or mixed viral and bacterial pneumoniaInflammation of one or both lungs..[5,8]

Bacterial pneumoniaInflammation of one or both lungs., which is the more common, is usually seen in people who had some sort of respiratory condition before their bout of fluA viral infection affecting the respiratory system.. Antibiotic treatment is needed.[8] In the 1918 pandemicAn outbreak of infection that affects numerous people in different countries. , most deaths were caused by secondary bacterial pneumoniaInflammation of one or both lungs..[4]

Viral pneumoniaInflammation of one or both lungs., which is less common, causes a dry cough and can be associated with difficulty breathing and rapid deterioration in health. Sometimes, artificial ventilationAlso known as artificial respiration, a procedure to maintain air flow into and out of the lungs. Examples include mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and the use of a ventilator. is needed.[8]

References: 
  1. Teo SSS, Nguyen-Van-Tam JS and Booy R. Influenza burden of illness, diagnosisThe process of determining which condition a patient may have., treatment, and prevention: what is the evidence in children and where are the gaps? Arch Dis Child. 2005;90:532-6.
  2. Stott DJ, Kerr G and Karman WF. Nosocomial transmission of influenzaA viral infection affecting the respiratory system.. Occup Med. 2002;52:249-53.
  3. Goulding J, Snelgrove R, Saldana J et al. Respiratory infections: do we ever recover? Proc Am Thorac Soc. 2007;4:618-25.
  4. Mossad SB. 2008-2009 Influenza update: a better vaccine match. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. 2008;75:865-70.
  5. Montalto NJ. An office-based approach to influenzaA viral infection affecting the respiratory system.: clinical diagnosisThe process of determining which condition a patient may have. and laboratory testing. Am Fam Physician. 2003;67:111-8.
  6. Taubenberger JK and Morens DM. The pathology of influenzaA viral infection affecting the respiratory system. virusA microbe that is only able to multiply within living cells. infections. Annu Rev Pathol. 2008;3:499-522.
  7. Boon NA, Colledge NR and Walker BR. 'Davidson's principles and practice of medicine'. Churchill Livingstone Elsevier. 2006; 20th edition.
  8. Newton DW, Treanor JJ and Menegus MA. Clinical and laboratory diagnosisThe process of determining which condition a patient may have. of influenzaA viral infection affecting the respiratory system. virusA microbe that is only able to multiply within living cells. infections. Am J Managed Care. 2000;6(suppl):S265-75.