Is It Flu Or A Medical Emergency?

Is It Flu Or A Medical Emergency?

Is It Flu Or A Medical Emergency?

Did you know the flu virus can spread and worsen chronic conditions such as asthma? The virus can cause severe inflammation, leading to rapid respiratory failure that affects other organs like the brain, heart, and lungs. Read on to learn when you have the flu or a medical emergency.

What is Infuenza (Flu)?

Influenza, commonly called the flu, is an infectious disease that targets the respiratory system, including the lungs, nose, and throat. Infectious diseases are caused by harmful pathogens such as bacteria and viruses that enter the body. Flu is a common viral infection that is mostly seasonal and targets the immune system during colder temperatures.

In most cases, it’s a mild and treatable condition that requires medication and rest for your body to recover fully. However, severe cases can lead to health complications that trigger other underlying illnesses. These life-threatening circumstances might require hospitalisation to ensure you regain optimal health.

Common Flu Complications

Most people can recover from the flu without any complications. It might take up to two weeks to regain full strength without lasting health concerns. However, there could be times when this viral infection leads to some severe complications that require immediate emergency care.


The bronchial tubes that carry air from and into your lungs can become inflamed when you have the flu. Acute bronchitis is expected when you catch a cold and have a nagging cough lasting several weeks. Common symptoms include:

  • Body aches and mild headaches.
  • Producing mucus that might be streaked with blood.
  • Chest pains and discomfort.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Fatigue


Did you know that a viral infection such as the flu can cause inflammation in the air sacs found in your lungs? A lung infection can create fluid or pus buildup, leading to inflammation and lung swelling. The symptoms of viral pneumonia might be similar to flu; however, they develop over several days and include:

  • High fever.
  • Uncontrollable shakes.
  • Sharp or stabbing chest pain when you cough.
  • Excessive sweating.
  • Fingernails and lips turning blue.
  • Loss of appetite.


When you have the flu, your nasal cavity can get swollen and inflamed. If there’s fluid buildup when your cavities are blocked, it increases the reproduction of infection-causing germs. If you have recurring or chronic sinusitis, you should see a doctor immediately if you have these symptoms:

  • Swelling on your forehead.
  • Fever
  • A stiff neck.
  • Swelling around the eyes that leads to double vision or other vision changes.
  • A bad headache.

Middle Ear Inflammation (Otitis Media)

A viral infection that affects your respiratory system can spread to your ears. The flu virus can travel into your middle ear to spread the disease. This can block your ear and cause swelling from infected fluid that doesn’t drain.

If you have an ongoing ear infection caused by the flu virus, it can lead to these complications:

  • The infection might spread into surrounding brain tissue and spinal cord.
  • Meningitis
  • Hearing loss.
  • Delayed speech and language development.
  • A torn eardrum.

Brain Tissue Inflammation (Encephalitis)

Did you know that a viral infection can cause inflammation in your brain? While it’s rare to develop acute influenza associated with Encephalitis, it’s still necessary to know that it can lead to severe neurological complications, especially among children between 6 and 18 months. When the flu causes brain tissue inflammation, it can be challenging to detect it early on because it will present itself like a regular cold.

Common symptoms include:

  • A fever.
  • A stiff neck.
  • Seizures
  • Light and sound sensitivity.
  • Partial arm and leg paralysis.
  • Confusion and disorientation.

Who is at Risk?

Your immune system can fight off the flu virus without emergency care. However, if your symptoms don’t ease up after a 2-week period, you should consider seeking medical assistance. People who are at risk of flu complications include:

  • People with underlying chronic conditions such as asthma, cardiovascular disease or lung disease.
  • Newborns and toddlers.
  • Pregnant women.
  • People who have a weakened immune system.

How to Prevent Flu Complications

Monitoring your symptoms is the best way to prevent complications and reduce life-threatening emergencies. You should seek medical advice if your symptoms worsen, even when you are on medication. Most importantly, maintain good hygiene and focus on healthy eating habits to improve your immune system.

In most cases, the flu isn’t a life-threatening virus. However, you should take the necessary measures to protect yourself from potential complications. Affinity Rescue provides emergency medical response, stabilisation and transportation when you require medical care.

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