FLU season is well and truly underway – with cases higher than they have been in a decade.
Cases of the bug have soared by close to 50 per cent in the last week and the NHS has been swamped with calls to its 111 service as Brits battle illness.
While data form UK Health Security Agency suggests the UK is on course for its deadliest season since the swine flu outbreak in 2010-11.
In most cases, those who catch flu will shrug off the illness in a week or two.
But for some unlucky people, the virus can develop into one of several deadly conditions.
1. Neurological Issues
In rare but severe cases, the flu virus can trigger inflammation in the brain, known as encephalitis, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
The condition affects around 4,000 Brits each year, and is know to kill around 40 per cent of those who have it.
According to GP Sarah Jarvis, the condition can leave you feeling “extremely unwell.
“People often feeling confused, disorientated and lose consciousness,” she told The Sun.
For some, flu can lead to the development sepsis – which is the bodies response to overwhelming infection.
The condition, which take the lives of 50,000 Brits each year can be worryingly hard to spot.
Dr Sarah said adults who develop the condition are likely to have a “very low body temperature, feel confused, experience slurred speech, palpations, shortness of breathe and may even lose consciousness.
“Kids are also likely to consciousness,” she added.
3. Asthma attacks
For those with asthma, catching flu can make your chances of having an attack much more likely.
The bug can cause swelling and narrowing of your airways. which can trigger a deadly attack, charity Asthma and Lung explained.
GP and TV Doctor, Rachel Ward told the Sun those with asthma who have flu are likely to feel “more short of breath, wheezy and have a worsening cough.
“Follow your asthma action plan that you should have from your annual GP checks.
“Monitor your peak flow or oxygen sats if advised to do so and adjust your inhalers or use rescue packs as advised,” the GP told The Sun.
“If in any doubt how to manage the flare up or you don’t have a personal plan, give your GP surgery a call to discuss and when feeling well, make an appointment for an annual asthma review,” she added.
Flu is a common cause of pneumonia – an infection of the lungs.
“Pneumonia can results from the flu itself, or you can get it as secondary a bacterial infection after the flu has weakened your immunity,” Dr Sarah Jarvis explained.
“Some of the common symptoms are shortness of breath, really high fever, coughing up blood and feeling extremely tired,” the GP added.
In order to reduce your chance of developing a chest of lung infection when you have flu, Dr Rachel suggested taking regular deep breaths that expand your whole chest.
“Ten per hour is ideal,” she explained.
“Also, get up regularly and walk around the house to improve lung expansion.
“If you smoke you are much more likely to develop a chest infection so it’s another reason to quit smoking,” she added.
5. Cardiomyopathy and myocarditis
Cardiomyopathy refers to a collection of conditions that affect the structure of the heart, while myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart’s muscle wall that can cause irregular heart rhythms.
Viral infections such as flu are among the top causes of the disease.
Joel Rose, chief executive of Cardiomyopathy UK, said: “During the winter flu season, it’s important that people recognise the signs and symptoms of cardiac diseases such as cardiomyopathy and myocarditis.
“With cases of flu and the common cold rife, people must listen to their body. If concerned, they should visit, or revisit, the GP as soon as possible.”
According to charity Heart UK, the main symptoms of the conditions are shortness of breath or trouble breathing, especially with physical exertion.
Also fatigue, swelling in the ankles, feet, legs, abdomen and veins in the neck.
6. Invasive strep A
The NHS says that viral infections such as the flu, put you at higher risk of invasive Strep A infections.
The deadly condition has so far killed over 30 children in the UK since September.
A study in mice, found that the flu virus weakens the immune system meaning those who catch strep A while infected with the virus are much more likely to go on to develop killer invasive strep A.
There are four key signs of invasive Group A Strep to watch out for, according to the NHS. These are:
- A fever (meaning a high temperature above 38°C)
- Severe muscle aches
- Localised muscle tenderness
- Redness at the site of a wound
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