Risk and complications of the flu.
Most people who come down with the flu recover within one to two weeks, but others may experience a more serious bout of the disease. Complications from the flu can range from moderate to severe, like sinus and ear infections, which are considered moderate complications. In contrast, pneumonia is more serious because of the flu virus alone or co-occurring with a bacterial infection. Other severe complications include inflammation of different organs such as the heart (myocarditis), brain (encephalitis), or muscles (myositis, rhabdomyolysis). Multiple organ failure, such as respiratory or kidney failure, can also occur. Those with conditions like asthma or chronic heart disease may find that their ailments are made worse by the flu.
Yes, anyone can contract the influenza virus. However, certain groups of people are more vulnerable to these complications. For them, a regular bout with the flu can lead to hospitalization or even death. The CDC lists people 65 or older, children under 5, and pregnant women. Plus, anyone with a chronic medical condition like asthma or diabetes as most at risk of experiencing complications. People with liver disease, weakened immune systems, neurologic or neurodevelopmental conditions, blood, endocrine, metabolic, or other organ disorders should have a flu shot. The same goes for those who are considered obese. They are encouraged to get their flu shots annually as this is their best protection from the worst outcomes of a flu infection.