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Flu and Sepsis Facts You Need to Know

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Posted on April 19, 2023
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There are many complications that can come with the flu, but one of the most serious is sepsis, the body’s life-threatening response to infection. Any kind of infection (including the flu) can cause sepsis.; When sepsis occurs, it is considered a medical emergency and must be treated immediately. According to the Sepsis Alliance, doctors have found that sepsis and severe sepsis rates tend to go up during flu season. Here is what you need to know about what sepsis is and preventing both flu and sepsis caused by flu infection.

Recognizing Sepsis

In the early stages, sepsis can mimic flu symptoms. These can include tiredness, fever, and feeling weak and achy muscles. This can make recognizing sepsis challenging. However, as sepsis develops, there are many signs that point to something else happening in the body–a racing heart, cold hands and feet, slurred speech, and shortness of breath can all be signs of sepsis. If you or a loved one develops any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately, as every minute counts when diagnosing sepsis.

Many of the family stories we publish include accounts of those who were diagnosed with the flu first and then developed sepsis. To be prepared and informed, you can review a full list of sepsis symptoms on the CDC website.

Treatment & Prevention

If sepsis is diagnosed early, there are treatment options. The key is to act fast. If your medical provider suspects sepsis, they will act immediately to make a proper diagnosis. Blood tests, lab tests, and/or x-rays and MRIs will help diagnose sepsis.

Once diagnosed, doctors will most likely give intravenous antibiotics to help fight the infection. To help avoid becoming dangerously ill with sepsis, there are a few steps you can take to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy:

  • The annual flu vaccine is the best way to help prevent the flu and avoid potential sepsis infection due to the flu. Remember, it is never too late to get the flu vaccine!
  • Wash hands and practice good hygiene to stop the spread of infections.
  • Manage any chronic conditions.
  • Recognize early signs and symptoms of worsening infection and sepsis.
  • Seek immediate care if signs and symptoms are present.

By educating yourself and those around you about the risk of flu and sepsis, you can help save lives. For more information, please watch the ‘Sepsis and Flu’ webinar, co-hosted with the Sepsis Alliance.


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