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NBCNews.com: How Dangerous Is Flu? What to Know About Symptoms and Signs of Complications

NBCNews.com and CNN.com recently interviewed Cedars-Sinai infectious disease specialist Jonathan Grein, MD, and Jeff Smith, MD, JD, MMM, executive vice president of Hospital Operations and chief operating officer at Cedars-Sinai, about the respiratory viruses that have been straining hospitals, complications that can develop from the flu, and ways to stay healthy.  

Grein, director of Hospital Epidemiology at Cedars-Sinai, told NBCNews.com that one of the most common reasons people with the flu end up in the hospital is pneumonia—and it doesn’t discriminate.

“Unfortunately, we do sometimes see young healthy people presenting with really severe pneumonia as well,” Grein told NBCNews.com. “It can occur in anybody.”

The flu also can increase the risk of heart attack and aggravate certain chronic conditions, Grein said.

“The flu triggers an immune response in your body to help fight off that infection, but sometimes that response can be a little overwhelming,” Grein told NBCNews.com. “In a patient with diabetes, their blood sugars increase, or you can see patients with underlying lung disease, if they get infected with influenza, that could make their breathing more difficult.”

Vaccination offers protection against the flu and COVID-19. So does wearing a mask, Smith said in the CNN.com story.

“I certainly would recommend that if you are elderly or have an illness that makes you immunocompromised or particularly susceptible to infection, I would encourage wearing a mask now,” Smith told CNN.com. “It’s the best protection that we have for anyone else who is concerned about transmission.”

Click here to read the complete story on NBCNews.com. Click here to view the complete segment on CNN.com.