Eric Chow, M.D.

Influenza is associated with a broad range of respiratory and non-respiratory diagnoses in adults, a new study has found.

Investigators suggest that the clinicians look beyond respiratory symptoms when making diagnoses during influenza season, and consider early antiviral treatment in patients with suspected or confirmed infection.

In an analysis of more than 80,000 U.S. adults hospitalized with confirmed influenza between 2010 and 2018, 95% had a respiratory diagnosis, and 46% had a nonrespiratory diagnosis, reported Eric Chow, M.D., from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and colleagues.

Pneumonia, sepsis, and acute kidney injury accounted for up to 36% of all non-respiratory influenza-associated diagnoses, the investigators noted. These in turn accounted for up to 8% of deaths. In addition, patients with certain less-common diagnoses had among the highest frequencies of severe outcomes, the researchers reported.

The relatively small (5%) group of patients with exclusively non-respiratory diagnoses were less likely to receive antiviral therapy for influenza than their peers with respiratory diagnoses, Chow added. 

“Influenza virus infection may be associated with both respiratory and non-respiratory diagnoses, highlighting the broad scope of influenza burden of disease,” the researchers concluded.