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The dangerous byproduct of influenza: Sepsis

It's that time of year again -- flu season. Each year, many people suffer from the flu, also called influenza. This highly contagious and aggressive respiratory, viral infection can keep you out of work for days.

However, if you are one of the unlucky ones, you will suffer from its effects much longer than that. As is the case with any infection, your body could end up attacking itself in the form of sepsis, which can quickly become life-threatening.

Let's take a look at influenza

You can get the flu either through the air or through touch. For example, if someone sneezes, the virus becomes airborne and adheres to the mucus membranes in your nose. If that same person touches his or her nose and then an object you later touch, you could contract the illness.

The symptoms of the flu and a cold may be the same, but if you contract the flu, your symptoms will come on suddenly and aggressively. If you suddenly experience the following, you probably have the flu and not a cold:

  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Body aches
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Fatigue

More often than adults, children may also experience vomiting and diarrhea. Ordinarily, your symptoms should go away after a week or two, but it will probably take more time for you to feel back to your normal self again.

When can the flu threaten your life?

Unfortunately, you may not get lucky enough to recover somewhat quickly. You may experience severe complications, such as dehydration, a secondary infection or sepsis. if you experience the following, you should probably seek medical attention right away:

  • Pain or pressure in your abdomen or chest
  • Confusion
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • High fever lasting three or more days
  • Persistent or severe vomiting
  • Flu symptoms improve but come back with a worse cough and fever

Depending on how far your infection has progressed, you could suffer from sepsis. This condition could worsen to septic shock if your blood pressure drops to a dangerous level. You need treatment right away in order to avoid this eventuality.

If your doctor fails to diagnose you in time, your recovery could include serious complications. You may require a stay in the intensive care unit and could suffer lifelong repercussions from the experience. Did your doctor contribute to your situation? Did your doctor make mistakes that made things worse for you? If you suspect so, you could consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney to determine your best way forward from here.

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