Young Men Face Higher Risk for Rare Flu Complication

From - March 8, 2018

Young Men Face Higher Risk for Rare Flu Complication

THURSDAY, March 8, 2018 -- Young men recovering from the flu should be aware of a side effect that causes nerve damage, a health expert warns.

To combat the flu virus, your immune system produces antibodies. In rare cases, these antibodies also attack myelin, which is the protective sheath around the nerves, explained Dr. Sheetal Shroff, a neurologist with Houston Methodist health system in Texas who specializes in neuromuscular disorders.

That condition is known as Guillain-Barr syndrome.

"Studies have shown that young men recovering from the flu have a slightly higher risk of developing Guillain-Barr syndrome," Shroff said in a hospital news release.

Initial signs of the condition include burning, numbness and tingling sensations in the legs. This can progress to muscle weakness, unsteadiness and falls. If untreated, people can develop total paralysis.

One study estimated that 17 of every million people with the flu develop Guillain-Barr syndrome, according to Shroff.

"What we do not know is the exact reason why young men are more likely to develop the syndrome than young women or even older men," she added.

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