How flu kills

CDC/ F. A. Murphy

Having already claimed the lives of 53 children in the US this season, flu is definitely showing its deadly side. However, it still more commonly presents like a mild illness that goes away on its own after a week or so. Thus, some wonder how people die from the flu.

What usually kill people with the flu are the complications that happen from it.

Sometimes, the whole body responds to the infection with overwhelming and dysregulated inflammation which can then lead to multiple organ failure and death. This is sepsis. In other times, the virus directly affects the lungs causing pneumonia. Bacteria can take advantage of the damage being caused by the virus and cause pneumonia as well. Also, inflammatory response can also involve the heart, causing what is called myocarditis; the brain, causing what is called encephalitis; the covering of the brain, causing what is called meningitis; the spinal cord, causing what is called myelitis; and the covering of the nerve cells, causing a paralyzing illness called Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Flu may not always kill, but it can in so many ways. So, take your flu shot. It may not completely prevent you from getting the flu. It can, however, protect you from dying from the flu.

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