The flu is a common viral infection that can be deadly. In fact, the 2017-2018 flu season was the deadliest since tracking began in 1976, killing 80,000 people in the United States alone. It was the first season to be classified as high severity across all age groups.
There is no cure but there are ways you can ease the symptoms. The majority of people with the flu take seven to 10 days to get healthy again, Dr. Dyan Hes, Medical Director of Gramercy Pediatrics in New York City, said. You can take medication to help with headaches, coughing and vomiting, but they won’t stop the flu, they will just treat the symptoms.
Mild complications such as body aches, dehydration and vomiting are common, but more serious health risks can develop as well. “We already had one baby in the [Intensive Care Unit] for a couple of weeks,” Hes said. Its vaccination appointment was not for another two weeks.
“The youngest and the oldest are by far the most at risk because their immune system is weak or compromised,” she added. Approximately 80% of the children who died from the flu during the last flu season had not received a flu shot. The single best way to prevent the infection, according to doctors and the CDC, is to get vaccinated each year.
The flu can make even healthy people very sick, Hes said. You don’t have to be weak or have a pre-existing condition to suffer severe complications, she added. “It kills healthy people, too.”
To identify the most serious flu complications, 24/7 Wall St. talked to doctors and reviewed several studies published in various medical journals.