Allison Miller was living a normal life in Madison, Wisconsin, when she started experiencing the tell-tale signs of a flu infection: 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 flu and its symptoms vary from one person to the next, but some groups are more at risk. In the elderly, children and those with weakened immune systems (such as people undergoing chemotherapy), the flu can sometimes lead to complications such as pneumonia or bronchitis. The flu 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 the flu. Only 1 in 3 people infected with the flu seek medical care within the first 2 days of developing symptoms.3,4 It is important to get medical advice as soon as you suspect the flu, not only for your health but also the health of others around you.5-7
Gaglia MA, et al Patient knowledge and attitudes about antiviral medication and vaccination for influenza in an internal medicine clinic Clin Infect Dis. 2007:45:1182-8.
Biggerstaff M, et al. Influenza-like illness, the time to seek healthcare, and influenza antiviral receipt during the 2010-11 influenza season - United States. J Infect Dis. 2014; 210: 535-44.
Keech M, Beardsworth P. The impact of influenza on working days lost: a review of the literature Phar macoeconomics 2008;26:911-24.
Paules C, Subbarao K. Influenza. Lancet. 2017;390:697-708.