Most people recover from the flu in 7 to 10 days without any lasting health problems. But for some people, the flu can cause serious complications, such as:
- pneumonia (a lung infection)
- bronchitis (inflammation of the airways)
- croup (an airway infection that causes a "barking" cough and is most common in children under 5)
- ear infections
- sinus infections
- encephalitis (a brain infection)
- sepsis (a blood infection)
Because of the stress it puts on the body, the flu can also worsen certain chronic (long-term) health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease, and diabetes.
Flu complications can lead to hospitalization and may even be fatal. In Canada, about 12,000 people are hospitalized each year due to flu complications. And every year, about 3,500 Canadians die from the flu and flu complications.
Some people are more at risk of flu complications than others. Learn more about who is at risk of flu complications, and use our tool "Are you at risk of flu complications?" to find out if you could be at risk.
To help protect yourself from flu complications:
- Take steps to prevent the flu.
- Find out if you are at risk of flu complications.
- If you think you have the flu, talk to your doctor as soon as possible (find the flu clinic nearest to you). Use the doctor discussion guide to help you prepare for your visit.