Sepsis Blog
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Flu Season & Sepsis – What to Know


As the familiar chill of winter settles in, so does the annual flu season. Influenza, or the flu, is a viral infection that attacks the nose, the lungs and the throat. While most cases of flu can be treated at home, flu can sometimes lead to life-threatening complications.

One of the flu’s  most serious complications is sepsis. Sepsis is the body’s extreme reaction to infection. The body attacks its own organs and tissues, which can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death. 

While children under 5 and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to sepsis from the flu, even healthy children, teenagers, and adults can succumb. This was tragically highlighted by the story of 16-year-old Reese, who lost her life to sepsis caused by Strep A pneumonia following the flu. Her grieving father, Dr. Cesar Termulo, shared her story on Today, urging action and highlighting the importance of prevention and early detection.  

Here are some key takeaways from Dr. Termulo’s message:

  • Get vaccinated against the flu: Vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu and its complications, including sepsis.
  • Be aware of the symptoms of the flu: Early detection and treatment can significantly reduce the risk of complications.
  • Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any concerning symptoms: Don’t hesitate to seek help if you or your loved one feels unwell, especially if their condition worsens rapidly.

More About The Flu and Sepsis:

Symptoms of the Flu:

The flu typically comes on suddenly and can mimic the common cold. Early symptoms can  include, Sore throat, Sneezing, Runny nose

Symptoms often worsen and can include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches, 
  • Fatigue
  • Sometimes vomiting and diarrhea

Symptoms of Sepsis:

Sepsis can develop rapidly and may present with the following symptoms:

  • Fever or low body temperature
  • Rapid heart rate (tachycardia) and rapid breathing (tachypnea)
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Extreme fatigue or weakness
  • Chills or shivering
  • Reduced urine output
  • Abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting
  • Skin rash or discoloration
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Elevated white blood cell count
  • Elevated lactate levels

If you detect even a few of these symptoms, seek medical help immediately and ask, “could it be sepsis?”

By prioritizing flu vaccination, staying informed about symptoms, and seeking prompt medical care, we can navigate this flu season with greater awareness and preparedness, protecting ourselves and our loved ones from the potentially devastating consequences of this illness.

Click to learn more about the Flu and Sepsis: