How does someone actually die from the flu?

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How does someone actually die from the flu?

In: Biology

Depends on who you’re talking about. If it’s your 90 year old grandma, the strain on her lungs and cardiovascular system may be enough. If it’s your healthy 21 year old friend, it’s likely the viral pneumonia predisposed them to a bacterial infection, which goes on to cause things like sepsis and organ failure.

Wash your hands!

It depends. In some cases, the immune system’s response can be too strong and result in other problems. Our immune system isn’t very smart, and sometimes can cause more harm than good. For example, if the lungs are infected by flu virus, the body’s immune response is to inflame the lungs to try to kill the infection – and that can kill some healthy lung tissue as well. Especially in people who already have underlying issues, that sort of damage can end up being fatal. The human body is sort of “shoot first, ask questions later” when it comes to dealing with invaders, and sometimes that works out badly – hell, sometimes the immune system can harm tissues that aren’t even in the affected area, just because it goes into overdrive.

In other cases, it’s not the flu directly that kills a person, but it weakens their immune system enough that another infection can come in and finish the job. Like a burglar leaving the back door open and letting in a murderer – while your body’s exhausting itself fighting off the flu virus, something else comes in and infects the body, causing its own damage, exhausting the body’s resources, and resulting in death from secondary infection. This is often what kills younger people without underlying conditions that make them more vulnerable – they just had bad luck and got overwhelmed with infections.

Super simple:

Fighting the flu costs your body energy.
If you are old or weak the amount of energy might put s big strain on your heart.

Simply put, they go into shock. The shock is caused by hypotension and hypovolemia due to fluid loss and Sepsis.

You need blood to carry oxygen to your heart and brain or you die. If your blood pressure is low enough, your heart and brain don’t get blood.

1. We used to think Sepsis was only caused by bacteria in the blood stream, now we know that even viruses like the flu can cause it.

https://www.cdc.gov/sepsis/what-is-sepsis.html

The flu, itself, can cause inflammation in the lungs which can directly lead to death. Essentially, that inflammation reduces your bodies ability to get oxygen to the rest of your body.

Beyond that, it’s secondary infections, Sepsis, or Pneumonia, COPD, etc.. all of which are enabled by the flu affecting your bodies immune response.

So, you can die directly from inflammation to your lungs, or by a secondary cause where the Flu was a contributing factor.