The hidden impact of influenza: Allison’s story

Views in this article should not replace medical advice. If you have symptoms of a respiratory infection, please speak to and follow the advice of a healthcare professional.

Allison Miller was living a normal life in Madison, Wisconsin, when she started experiencing the tell-tale signs of an influenza infection, sometimes referred to as the flu: headache, a sore throat and generally not feeling very well.¹⁻² After an initial assessment at her local urgent care clinic she was sent home, but later that night an ambulance took her back to hospital.

The course of influenza and its symptoms vary from one person to the next, but some groups are more at risk than others.1,2 Especially in the elderly, children and those with weakened immune systems (such as people undergoing chemotherapy), influenza can sometimes lead to complications such as pneumonia or bronchitis. Influenza can also worsen existing medical conditions such as asthma or congestive heart failure.1,2

In Allison's case, her health deteriorated and she continued to get sicker and sicker. Unfortunately, she developed bilateral bacterial pneumonia, which led to sepsis and then septic shock. She had to undergo surgery and remain in hospital for several months.

Many people think there is little point in contacting their doctor when they have influenza. Only one in three people infected with influenza seek medical care within the first two days of developing symptoms.3 If you could be considered at high-risk of influenza it is important to seek medical advice as soon as you suspect influenza.1,4

Read more about the impact of flu on your life

Want to find out more about influenza?


  1. WHO 2018. Influenza (Seasonal). [Internet; cited March 2023]. Available at:

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Key Facts About Influenza (flu). [Internet; cited March 2023]. Available from:

  3. Biggerstaff M, et al. J Infect Dis. 2014; 210: 535-44.

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza Antiviral Medications: Summary for Clinicians. [Internet; cited March 2023]. Available from:

Updated May 2023

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