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Posted on: January 12, 2018 at 4:51 pm

As common as a flu might be, we should always look to it with seriousness. Take the example of Shawn Burrough, a father of four, who is currently in the ICU at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in Lakeside, San Diego since New Year’s Day fighting for his life because of a renal failure that emerged from what he and his family thought was just a simple flu.

According to his wife, Jennifer, the flu started around Christmas when the bug hit their household. “He had a little chest congestion, headache, body ache — the usual stuff where you’re like, ‘OK, I’m getting the flu,’” she said.

Shawn dismissed the flu and continued to work. Now, he’s in critical condition. On January 1, 2018, “He couldn’t breathe. They had to rush me out, they had to intubate him and sedate him,” Jennifer said. “They told me he was in renal failure, his white count was through the roof, he has severe pneumonia.”

Jennifer was shocked that a flu virus is what hospitalized her husband especially for a man that’s a U.S. Navy veteran who fought in the Gulf War and who works two jobs. Looking back, she wishes to have been more careful before his illness escalated.

Jennifer advises, “If you’re sick — I mean the first cough, I don’t care if it’s not the flu — go get seen just in case. You never know.”

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And she’s right. We tend to treat the flu as a temporary, non-life-threatening illness but that’s not always the case and her husband’s story serves as a wake-up call to think otherwise.

Flu Warning Symptoms

A flu sends a signal to our body that we caught an influenza virus. It’s a contagious disease that’s quick to spread through our upper respiratory tract. It carries the following symptoms: (high) fever, headache, extreme tiredness, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, diarrhea, and vomiting. (1)

Flu-related Complications

Most people who get the flu experience mild illness and can usually recover within 2 weeks. However, a flu can result into bigger complications such as experiencing dehydration, ear & sinus infections, and pneumonia (bacterial or viral). (2) In Shawn’s case, he’s in renal failure and is suffering from severe pneumonia.

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Pneumonia happens when the flu virus reaches the lung or your body gets a bacterial infection. You may experience chest pains, sweating, chills, fever and a cough with green or bloody mucus. (3)

The flu may also worsen long-term medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and congestive heart failure. For example, if you have asthma, your flu can trigger an asthma attack. Similarly, a flu can worsen a person’s health condition if they have chronic congestive heart failure. (4)

People that are at high-risk for developing flu-related complications are: (5)

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–       Children younger than 5 years old (especially children that are below 2 years old)

–       Adults over 65 years of age

–       Pregnant woman (and women up to two weeks postpartum)

–       Nursing home residents and long-term care facilities.

–       Also, American First Nations and Alaskan Natives 

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When to call your doctor

It’s crucial that you pay extreme attention to your health and treat it with utmost importance.  As a good rule of thumb, call your doctor within 48 hours if you have a high fever and have difficulty breathing. If your fever is causing you to experience shaking chills, shortness of breath, chest pains, and wheezing, make an immediate call. Lastly, check with your doctor if you have pneumonia as soon as you notice that your cough isn’t going away or you’re experiencing any from of chest pain. (6)

Conclusion

Your health should always be prioritized. Don’t dismiss the symptoms of a flu and wait until the illness gets worse. Take Jennifer’s advice and get an immediate check-up. As they say, health is wealth and you should treat it so.

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