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Local mom raising awareness about dangers of flu-related complications

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- During flu season, people should not only be concerned about influenza. One health system is reminding people about the dangers of flu-related complications.

Nolan Wilkes, 7, had the flu earlier this season.

“The first time I saw him, he had classic flu-like symptoms,” Novant Health Physician Assistant Nicole Vital said.

He was treated with Tamiflu, but Nolan would return to the doctor’s office.

This time he was not the patient.

Nolan’s family came back because his mother and brother were having flu-like symptoms.

When the family was getting ready to leave, Vital noticed that Nolan appeared to be off balance when he was walking.

Prior to the visit, Nolan was complaining about his legs aching.

“My legs felt like they were broken,” he said.

“He was walking like he had just ridden a horse all day,” said Bridget Wilkes, Nolan’s mom.

Body aches are a part of having the flu, so it was difficult to be certain Nolan’s leg pain was associated with a complication.

However, Vital thought it best to stick with her first instinct and recommended the family take Nolan to the emergency room.

Nolan was admitted.

“I was completely dumbfounded at that point,” she said.

Nolan had rhabdomyolosis.

It comes from a breakdown in muscle tissue and sends a damaging protein into the blood.

It can be a complication of the flu.

If not caught in time, rhabdomyolosis can lead to kidney damage or it can be fatal.

Fortunately, Nolan’s case was caught early enough, allowing him to recover quickly.

Bridget made a Facebook post to raise awareness among other parents. It has been shared more than  1,000 times.

She also sent Vital and the Novant Health staff where Nolan was treated a thank you note.

Vital encourages people with influenza to pay attention to any changes.

For example, if you appeared to be feeling better, but aches, pains or a fever returned, those could be signs that it may be time to follow-up with a doctor.