Kyler Baughman died just five days after coming down with the flu. On December 23, the 21-year-old bodybuilder came down with typical flu symptoms — a cough and congestion — but figured he was just going through a routine sickness.
“We saw him the 23rd for our family Christmas get-together and we noticed he wasn’t feeling well. He looked rundown and had a bit of a snotty nose,” his mom, Beverly Baughman, told WPXI.
Baughman planned to just take it easy for a few days and ride out the virus, but his symptoms worsened and he died a few days later.
Here is what you need to know:
1. He Died From Complications of the Flu Virus
Baughman had been running a fever off and on since he started having flu symptoms. He started to feel bad enough that he needed to seek medical attention. He went to an emergency room near his home in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, and ended up being flown to UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh.
Within 24 hours of arriving in Pittsburgh, Baughman died. His body went into septic shock, which can occur when the body is working to fight off an infection such as pneumonia or influenza.
“People who are infected with an influenza virus may develop sepsis. Sometimes incorrectly called blood poisoning, sepsis is the body’s often deadly response to infection. Sepsis kills and disables millions and requires early suspicion and rapid treatment for survival.”
Baughman’s mother told WPXI that her son went into organ failure after he came down with sepsis.
Although the flu doesn’t always require a patient to seek medical attention, there are some symptoms that are cause for concern. If the patient has difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, confusion, dizziness, severe or persistent vomiting, or a high fever that lasts for more than three days, he or she should contact a doctor immediately.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta previously told CNN that most people who die from the flu have an “underlying illnesses or a weakened immune system.”
According to the CDC, tens of thousands of people in the United States die from the flu each year (the number fluctuates based on the severity of the strain).
2. He Did Not Get a Flu Shot
Baughman’s mother confirmed that her son did not get a flu shot this season. It is unknown if having the flu shot would have prevented Baughman from getting sick (sometimes the flu shot is for a different strain and doesn’t protect against the sickness), but it’s a possibility.
While it is not required, the CDC does suggest that everyone over the age of 6 months should get a flu vaccine every year.
“It’s best to get vaccinated before flu begins spreading in your community. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against flu. CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October, if possible. Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later.”
3. He Was a Bodybuilder & Was Studying to Become a Personal Trainer
Baughman was a bodybuilder and had won awards for in competitions over the years. He was very dedicated to health and fitness, which were big parts of his every day life. Baughman was in good physical health and was physically fit at the time of his passing. His mother told WPXI that her son was “into physical fitness” and that he was studying to be a personal trainer.
While it sounds like Baughman lived a very healthy lifestyle, his body seemed to have an adverse reaction to the flu. It was unclear if he had any other underlying issues or if his immune system was further compromised at the time he contracted the sickness.
“It doesn’t seem real,” Mrs. Baughman told WPXI.
4. He Was Engaged to Olivia Marcanio
Baughman spent a lot of time with Olivia Marcanio, whom WPXI refers to as his fiancee. She spoke with the outlet following Baughman’s passing.
“He kinda just laid down and went about his day and that was the day he was coughing and said his chest hurt, he had a mild cough,” she explained.
After Baughman’s death, Marcanio changed her Facebook profile photo to one of her and Baughman and captioned the pic, “In the car, I just cant wait, to pick you up on our very first date.” Her relationship status on the social networking site is listed as “engaged.”
Marcanio’s profile also states that she’s studying for a liberal arts degree at Westmoreland County Community College.
5. His Parents Are Sharing His Story to Raise Awareness
During this extremely challenging time, Mr. and Mrs. Baughman have decided to share their story with the media in hopes of raising awareness. While death from influenza is rare, it can happen. They are encouraging others to pay attention to their bodies and to seek medical help when something doesn’t seem right.
“Try and know your body. Don’t let things go. Whenever you have a fever for multiple days, don’t let it go, get it taken care of,” Kyler’s father, Todd Baughman, told WPXI.
“I just think he ignored it and thought it’d go away like most people, and I think people need to pay more attention to their bodies,” Mrs. Baughman told the outlet.