The hidden impact of flu: Allison’s story

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.<sup>1,2</sup> 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

I had never felt so sick in my life. And so I called a friend. And by the time she got there, she came in and took one look at me and said, I think I need to call 911. And the ambulance came, and that was the start of everything.
Allison Miller

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.

I really want to make sure people don’t dismiss the flu as just the flu. It can be so much more serious, and the complications that arise can be life-threatening. Influenza is a serious public health problem, and I really would hope that public awareness prompts people to do what they can to stop the spread of the flu.
Allison Miller

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

Read more about the impact of flu on your life here.

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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Key facts about influenza (flu). Available from: (Accessed July 2019).

  2. Mayo Clinic. Flu symptoms: Should I see my doctor? Available from: (Accessed July 2019).

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Keech M, Beardsworth P. The impact of influenza on working days lost: a review of the literature Phar macoeconomics 2008;26:911-24.

  6. Paules C, Subbarao K. Influenza. Lancet. 2017;390:697-708.

  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza antiviral medications: summary for clinicians. Available from: (Accessed July 2019).

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