The Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago has issued an appeal to parents and guardians to ensure their children’s safety from the influenza virus. The Authority explains that children, particularly those five years and under, have been categorised by the Ministry of Health as one of the groups vulnerable to the virus.

People often mistake the flu for a bad cold, since flu symptoms mimic a cold. When you catch the flu, you might experience coughing, sneezing, runny nose, hoarse voice, and a sore throat.

But flu can progress into conditions like pneumonia, or worsen other chronic issues like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and congestive heart failure, which can quickly become life-threatening.

Flu can directly lead to death when the virus triggers severe inflammation in the lungs. When this happens, it can cause rapid respiratory failure because your lungs can’t transport enough oxygen into the rest of your body.

The flu can also cause your brain, heart, or muscles to become inflamed. This can lead to sepsis, an emergency condition that can be fatal if not immediately treated.

If you develop a secondary infection while you have the flu, that can also cause your organs to fail. The bacteria from that infection can get into your bloodstream and cause sepsis, as well.

In adults, symptoms of life-threatening flu complications include:

  • feeling short of breath
  • trouble breathing
  • disorientation
  • feeling suddenly dizzy
  • abdominal pain that is severe
  • pain in the chest
  • severe or ongoing vomiting

Life-threatening symptoms in babies include:

  • temperature higher than 100.3˚F (38˚C) in babies 3 months or younger
  • reduced urine output (not wetting as many diapers)
  • inability to eat
  • inability to produce tears
  • seizures

Emergency flu symptoms in small children include:

  • irritability and refusing to be held
  • inability to drink enough, leading to dehydration
  • breathing rapidly
  • stiffness or pain in the neck
  • headache that isn’t alleviated with over-the-counter pain relievers
  • trouble breathing
  • a blue tinge to the skin, chest, or face
  • inability to interact
  • difficulty waking up
  • seizures