Deadly Flu Symptoms

The flu is a respiratory illness that is caused by a virus known as the influenza virus. The flu isn't the same viral illness as a cold, but they share some of the same symptoms. Colds are less likely to cause serious complications, especially for the elderly, the very young and those who also suffer from chronic illnesses. The flu will cause fever and will also weaken the immune system, leaving it vulnerable to other more serious infections. Know the serious flu symptoms that require immediate medical attention.

A young boy is wearing a flu mask at the doctor's office. (Image: DAJ/amana images/Getty Images)

Oxygen Exchange

According to research released in mid-2009, "How Flu Damages Lung Tissue", from the University of Alabama, doctors discovered a protein that helps the influenza virus to multiply will also damage the cells that line the inside of the lungs. This damage causes fluid buildup in the lungs and prevents oxygen from reaching the blood stream. The lack of oxygen results in heavy breathing as your body tries to get more oxygen. Your lips can also take on a bluish tinge because you don't have enough oxygen in the blood stream. Symptoms of oxygen exchange have reached dangerous levels when you're not able to catch your breath, you are panting or feel tightness in your chest. Seek medical attention immediately for these symptoms or if your symptoms are getting worse instead of improving.


Symptoms of the flu can also include dizziness and confusion. Dizziness is a form of light-headedness or a feeling like you might faint. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine dizziness can happen if there is a sudden drop in blood pressure or if you are suffering from dehydration brought on from vomiting and diarrhea. Dizziness often accompanies the flu but can be a significant finding if it doesn't clear quickly after you stand or if it is accompanied with confusion. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention sudden dizziness and confusion are emergency warning signs that someone should seek urgent medical attention. Dehydration can also result in skin that feels like leather or urine that is dark yellow. Sometimes young children will get so dehydrated that they cry without tears.


The flu is a common illness that results in fever, upper respiratory symptoms and cough. When you have the flu and find that your symptoms are getting worse, or that you improve but then the fever returns with a worse cough it is time to seek emergency care from your physician. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, these are signs that you could suffer significant health risks. Since other underlying, chronic medical conditions, such as asthma or diabetes, have a negative effect on your immune system, you should consult with your practitioner for care recommendations.

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