No one is immune to the flu.

It is easiest to catch it in public places - wherever there are gatherings of groups of people, because it is easily transmitted by airborne droplets.

The symptoms of flu and cold are very similar, so it is easy to confuse them.

However, the correct diagnosis is very important, because the lack of treatment or, even worse, the wrong treatment of the flu leads to very serious complications.

Family medicine doctor Krystyna Shevchenko talks about the most frequent complications of the flu.

The most frequent complications of influenza

The most common complications of influenza are bronchitis or pneumonia, sinusitis, otitis media, Guillain-Barré syndrome, meningoencephalitis and transverse myelitis may develop less frequently.

In people suffering from diabetes, chronic cardiovascular or respiratory diseases, these ailments may worsen.

So, what are the most common complications of influenza in medical practice:

Acute bronchitis

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The main symptoms of acute bronchitis are a strong cough with phlegm, fever and general malaise.

Sometimes the patient has shortness of breath and rapid heartbeat.

In the treatment of acute bronchitis, the doctor most often prescribes such drugs as:

  • antipyretic;

  • expectorant;

  • antitussives;

  • bronchodilators;

  • antibiotics;


Antibiotics are recommended for patients with a persistent cough or signs of bacterial infection.


As a complication of the flu, pneumonia begins suddenly with fever and chills.

Chest pain may also occur.

The cough is dry and exhausting at first, then becomes wet with sputum.

Pneumonia is treated with antibiotics, antipyretics and expectorants, as well as bed rest for 5-7 days.

In some cases, when pneumonia superimposes on a chronic respiratory disease and aggravates it, hospitalization is strongly recommended.

Acute otitis

Usually, such otitis is the result of an acute infection of the nasopharynx, which connects to the middle ear through the Eustachian tube.

In babies and young children, otitis can be suspected when the baby becomes irritable and fussy for no reason, has no appetite, has a stuffy nose, and may rub his head against the pillow.

Older children and adults complain of ear pain or hearing loss.

With a large amount of inflammatory exudate in the ear cavity, spontaneous perforation of the tympanic membrane and its outflow from the ear may occur.

Inflammation of the middle ear is treated with antibiotics, analgesics and antipyretics are additionally prescribed.

Inflammation of the paranasal sinuses

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Sinusitis as a result of upper respiratory infections, including influenza, is quite common and develops in approximately 5% of patients with a runny nose or other symptoms of a nasopharyngeal infection.

Symptoms of sinusitis include a dull headache in the forehead or nose, fever and general malaise.

People prone to sinusitis should not underestimate the flu infection.

It is important that they stay at home and take their prescribed medication.

The apartment should be well humidified, since dry and hot air inhibits the processes of self-cleaning of the respiratory tract.

Treatment of sinusitis should be carried out by an ENT doctor, because in some cases "cuckoo" is prescribed - washing the nose to remove residual mucus or injecting drugs directly into the affected sinus.

Violation of blood circulation

Acute circulatory failure is manifested by sudden and progressive weakness, shortness of breath that worsens, pale skin, and an accelerated or irregular heart rate.

This is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate emergency care and inpatient treatment.

Chronic insufficiency of blood circulation is characterized by slowly increasing symptoms, including swelling and residual.

Edema is caused by the accumulation of an excessive amount of fluid in the extracellular space (if the patient walks, then in the lower limbs, and if he lies, then in the area of ​​the kidneys).

Treatment of circulatory disorders in the initial period of development can be carried out by a doctor at home.

More pronounced insufficiency of blood circulation requires inpatient treatment.

Guillain-Barre syndrome

Guillain-Barré syndrome is a rare (frequency 1-4 cases per 100,000 per year) disease that leads to progressive muscle weakness due to damage to peripheral nerves.

In Guillain-Barré syndrome, there is a pathological reaction of antibodies that, instead of protecting the body, begin to damage the nerve sheaths, leading to innervation disorders that are the basis of the symptoms that arise.

The reasons for this abnormal response remain unclear, but it is theorized that some viral and bacterial infections produce antibodies that cross-react with the molecules that make up the nerve sheath.

They not only destroy the viruses and bacteria against which they are directed, but also somehow "by mistake" damage the body's own tissues.

Indeed, almost 2/3 of cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome are preceded by an influenza infection.

Most often, about 2-4 weeks after a mild infection of the respiratory or digestive system, sensitivity disorders appear in the fingers or toes (they are the result of the involvement of sensitive nerve fibers).

To this is added a gradual progressive symmetrical weakening of the muscle strength of the legs, which leads to difficulties while walking and, ultimately, to complete paralysis.

There is no specific treatment for Guillain-Barré syndrome.

A therapeutic technique consisting of plasmapheresis and administration of immunoglobulins is usually used.

In addition, they often include taking pharmaceutical drugs with analgesic and anticoagulant effects.

In the case of successful treatment, approximately 80% of patients are completely cured, and 3-5% end up in a wheelchair.

In general, the treatment of patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome can last a long time, leading to a significant improvement in the state of health.

Complications of the flu: do not underestimate the disease

Complications of influenza, especially untreated, lead to serious diseases, very dangerous for health and even life.

If symptoms such as fever, runny nose, weakness and shortness of breath appear, contact your family doctor, who will develop a treatment plan for you.

Never underestimate these symptoms, even if you think you have a common cold.

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