Has Your Flu Turned Into Pneumonia?

May 7th 2016

When flu season strikes, viruses can affect individuals of all ages, even those who have obtained flu vaccinations. In many cases, individuals with flu viruses recover within a few weeks, but there are also instances in which the flu can lead to viral pneumonia, a severe respiratory illness that can be life-threatening if left untreated. According to the American Lung Association, flu viruses are the leading cause of viral pneumonia in adults, especially those with weakened immune systems. Individuals with viral pneumonia can also develop bacterial pneumonia. Understanding the signs and symptoms of pneumonia can help to ensure that individuals suffering from flu viruses take prompt action in obtaining a proper diagnosis and immediate treatment.

Fever With Shaking Chills

A high fever is a common symptom in both influenza and pneumonia viruses. When a fever is due to pneumonia, it is often accompanied by severe shaking and chills. Sufferers may also experience periods of intense sweating and clammy, cold skin.

Chest Pain and Wheezing

Individuals suffering from pneumonia often complain of chest pain that becomes worse upon coughing or deep breathing. A wheezing, whistling or crackling sound may also be detected upon physical examination. While chest pain can also occur in individuals with the flu, chest pain caused by pneumonia is usually more intense and lasts for a longer duration.

Excessive Coughing

While coughing is a common symptom of colds and flu, it can also indicate pneumonia, especially if the cough produces excessive mucus or blood and is accompanied by severe chest pain or breathing difficulties. Blood in the mucus and breathing problems are considered serious medical emergencies, so it is imperative for sufferers to seek immediate medical attention.

While there is unfortunately no way to predict if or when a flu virus may turn into pneumonia, understanding the differences between the two illnesses can help to ensure that sufferers take immediate action in seeking prompt treatment. When caught in time, pneumonia is easily treatable, allowing patients to recover within a few weeks' time.

Sources

cdc.gov "Flu Season" http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2014-2015.htm
lung.org "Understanding Pneumonia" http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/pneumonia/understanding-pneumonia.html
flu.gov "Seasonal Flu" http://www.flu.gov/about_the_flu/seasonal/

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