Knowledge is power—so don’t ignore these factors that might affect you.
Thankfully, our society has become more aware about preventing respiratory illnesses like the flu. Still, if you do come down with influenza, you’ll want to be aware of personal factors that may increase your risk of flu complications.
4 Things That Increase Your Flu Complications Risk
The flu can produce symptoms that range from mild to severe. In some cases, it can even lead to a life-threatening case of pneumonia, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), and sepsis.
Flu complications become more likely with these risk factors:
- Age: Flu complications are more common in those who are 65 and older as well as 2 years and younger.
- Pregnancy: The immune system is temporarily weaker during pregnancy, so people may be more vulnerable to flu complications during this time. There tends to be a lot of confusion surrounding vaccine safety while pregnant, but those who are pregnant actually need extra protection during flu season. Plus, the vaccine can help protect their unborn children.
- Environment: Crowded or communal spaces increase the risk of exposure to the virus. This includes elderly assisted communities or nursing homes, as well as in low-income, highly saturated urban locations.
- Chronic health conditions: People with asthma and other respiratory disabilities are more at risk of serious illness from the flu. Other risk factors include diabetes, metabolic disorders, obesity, and heart problems.
Even If You’re At Lower Risk, Protect Those Around You Who Aren’t
Preventing the spread of the flu is important for everyone, regardless of your personal risk factors. If you do not have risk factors for flu complications, following flu prevention strategies can help protect others around you (who may be at risk).
Stay vigilant each flu season (and all year), by getting the flu shot, washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when you feel under the weather. That way, you can help protect yourself and those who fit these higher risk categories.
- People at Higher Risk of Flu Complications. Washington, DC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021. (Accessed on August 30, 2021)
- Flu Symptoms & Complications. Washington, DC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021. (Accessed on August 30, 2021)
- Preventive Steps. Washington, DC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021. (Accessed on August 30, 2021)