, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 186–196

Reducing the Burden of Influenza-Associated Complications with Antiviral Therapy


DOI: 10.1007/s15010-009-8241-1

Cite this article as:
Ruf, B.R. & Szucs, T. Infection (2009) 37: 186. doi:10.1007/s15010-009-8241-1



Influenza imposes an annual burden on individuals, society, and healthcare systems. This burden is increased by the development of complications that are often more severe than the primary infection. Here, we examine the main complications associated with influenza and review the effectiveness of antiviral therapy in reducing the incidence of such events.

Material and Methods:

The content of this review is taken from the study of the authors’ extensive collection of reference materials, examination of the bibliographical content of relevant papers, and the results of Medline searches.


The most commonly encountered complications in adults are sinusitis, pharyngitis, bronchitis, and, particularly in the elderly, bacterial pneumonia. Such complications may exacerbate pulmonary complaints. Children are particularly prone to post-influenza croup and otitis media. Complications involving the central nervous system, heart, or skeletal muscle also occur in influenza patients. Influenza-associated complications impose sizeable healthcare costs in terms of outpatient contacts, hospitalizations, and antibiotic use. Vaccination is the primary prevention strategy for influenza and its complications, but has limitations. Neuraminidase inhibitors have demonstrated efficacy in reducing the incidence of influenza-associated complications in populations with different ages and risks.


Influenza complications place a large burden on healthcare providers and society. Neuraminidase inhibitors can reduce the incidence of such complications, particularly in high-risk groups.

Copyright information

© Springer 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.2nd Dept. of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and Tropical MedicineKlinikum Sankt Georg LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Social and Preventive MedicineUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland