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Can the Flu Turn into Pneumonia?



The flu CAN turn into pneumonia. 

The flu is a serious illness that can lead to complications. One of those complications is pneumonia. Pneumonia is a severe and potentially lethal infection of the lungs. Your condition and symptoms can be monitored to make certain the flu does not turn into pneumonia.

Definition of the Flu

Influenza, also known as the flu, is an upper respiratory infection. It affects the nose, throat, bronchial tubes and lungs. The onset usually occurs within five to seven days of expose to influenza viruses A or B. Influenza is an airborne virus that is transmitted to others predominantly by an infected person sneezing or coughing. Symptoms include an abrupt and simultaneous onset of fever, chills, headaches and fatigue.

Definition of Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an infection in the bronchial tubes and the air sacs in the lungs. It is bacterial or viral in origin. Bacterial pneumonia can be fatal and typically follows a cold or the flu. As with the flu, the onset of symptoms occurs suddenly and manifest as a high fever with severe chills. Other symptoms include aches and stabbing chest pain. You may start to feel better and suddenly relapse and get worse.

The Flu Turning into Pneumonia

While it is difficult to differentiate certain symptoms, there are definitive indications that the flu has turned into pneumonia. If you experience chills so severe your teeth chatter and your fever is up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, those are symptoms of pneumonia. Labored or rapid breathing is another indication the flu has turned into pneumonia. The cough will be severe and dry and is often accompanied by tightness in the chest. The coughing and chest pain of pneumonia typically become worse after 12 to 36 hours, and the fever lingers beyond the usual three to four days that accompanies the flu.



New York State Department of Health
“Influenza (Flu) Fact Sheet”

University of Maryland Medical Center

National Center for Biotechnology Information
“Pneumonia – PubMed Health”

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