Flu Season: Risk Factors

Health Watch is a Public Service of the University News Bureau and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics. 

This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about flu season. Most of the guidelines for vaccination mention underlying medical conditions that raise the risk of flu complications. What conditions are cause for concern?

For healthy people, a bout with the flu means a week of misery. For others, the flu can be deadly. Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says some medical conditions make people more likely to get a severe infection. These include lung diseases like asthma or chronic pulmonary lung disease, diabetes, pregnancy and any immune-suppressing illnesses. Diseases like cancer make people more vulnerable to infection. There can also be a genetic factor that explains why some healthy people are more severely affected than others. People with underlying medical conditions should be sure to get vaccinated for the flu and should talk to their doctors about other vaccinations they may need, such as the pneumonia vaccine.


October 2011

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