Flu Complications

Flu complications can result when the body’s immune system becomes compromised or succumbs to another type of serious infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 200,000 Americans require hospitalization due to influenza-related complications. Of these people, the CDC estimates that 36,000 die from influenza-related causes. Complications known to result from the flu include pneumonia, acute sinusitis and bronchitis.


Pneumonia is one known complication that can result from an uncontrolled progression of the flu. Pneumonia occurs when the lungs become inflamed by either bacteria, a virus or a fungus. According to an article on pneumonia by the Mayo Clinic, people with a higher risk of developing pneumonia such as older adults and those who have chronic illnesses or compromised immune systems can have fewer or less intense symptoms than those with a lower risk. Many times pneumonia will mimic the symptoms of the flu and you may not recognize that you have it. If you suspect that you have pneumonia or if you have flu-like symptoms, seek treatment from your physician.

Acute Sinusitis

Acute sinusitis may develop for those suffering from the flu virus. This can cause complications if left untreated. Acute sinusitis occurs when the fissures around the naval passages become swollen and inflamed. According to an article on acute sinusitis by the Mayo Clinic, with acute sinusitis, breathing through your nose may become increasingly difficult. Areas around your face and eyes may become swollen, and you may experience facial pain or a headache. If you suffer from a bad case of sinusitis or your symptoms worsen, you may develop meningitis; a disease in which the sinus infection begins to spread to the lining of the brain. Treat acute sinusitis with either home remedies such as decongestants or pain relievers. If you doctor suspects a bacterial or fungal infection, he may prescribe antibiotics.


Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which deliver air to and from your lungs. Bronchitis can occur with smokers or as a complication of a cold or flu virus. According to the National Institutes of Health, when the bronchial tubes become inflamed, they produce a great deal of mucus. This causes sufferers to cough which can make it difficult for air to freely move in and out of their lungs. Bronchitis can increase the risk of having an asthma attack. Treatment for bronchitis may include rest, drinking plenty of fluids, cough medicine and specific antibiotics.

About this Author

Antonius Ortega is a 13-year veteran of the fitness industry and an athletic trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. His articles on fitness, health and travel have appeared in newspapers such as the “The Hornet,” “The Daily Bruin,” and “Stars and Stripes.” Ortega trains in Orange County.