By. Joseph Bresee, M.D., FAAP
Influenza (the ‘flu’) is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs caused by the influenza virus. While the flu can make anyone very sick, people with chronic health conditions like chronic lung diseases such as asthma and COPD, diabetes (types 1 and 2), and chronic heart disease are more likely to develop serious problems from flu illness. The flu can make their chronic health conditions worse, even when those conditions are well-managed. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu. Flu can also lead to flu-related complications like pneumonia and bronchitis that can result in hospitalization and sometimes even death. Each flu season, flu causes hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and thousands or sometimes tens of thousands of deaths.