Sepsis is a serious medical condition that can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, amputations and death. During Sepsis Awareness Month, CHI Memorial is partnering with Sepsis Alliance to raise awareness of this serious infection.
Sepsis is the body’s life-threatening response to infection or injury. When someone gets an infection, the body’s immune system will try to fight the infection. However, sometimes the immune system response is more than the body can handle.
The damage this causes is part of what defines sepsis. While it’s more common in young children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems, but it can happen to anyone – even someone who’s otherwise healthy.
Knowing and recognizing the signs of sepsis is the best way to minimize the serious health effects associated with the condition. Symptoms include rapid breathing and heart rate, shortness of breath, confusion or disorientation, extreme pain or discomfort, fever, shivering or feeling very cold, and clammy or sweaty skin, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.
“The lesson here is to pay attention when you have any sort of infection,” says Matthew Kodsi, M.D., vice president, medical affairs, CHI Memorial. “Recognizing the signs of infection and getting the appropriate treatment early can help prevent the infection from developing into sepsis.”
Most sepsis cases can be treated successfully with early recognition and treatment. The risk of dying from sepsis increases by as much as 8% for every hour treatment is delayed, according to a study published by the National Library of Medicine. A physician can make the diagnosis based on evaluating the patient’s symptoms, health history and other tests such as a blood or urine test.
Sepsis is treated with antibiotics and fluids. Some patients might need to be put on oxygen, a ventilator or have dialysis. People who recover from a serious case of sepsis may have lingering effects. Up to 50% of sepsis survivors might experience post-sepsis syndrome.
PSS symptoms include physical and psychological issues such as difficulty sleeping, hallucinations, panic attacks, disabling muscle or joint pain, decreased cognitive function and depression.
While it can’t always be prevented, the risk of developing sepsis drops when steps are taken to prevent or treat an infection quickly. These steps can include staying up-to-date on vaccinations, practicing good hygiene and wound care and getting medical help if an infection is suspected.
Sepsis can develop very quickly and is considered a medical emergency. If you notice any of the listed symptoms, especially if the person had a recent cut, surgery, invasive procedure or infection, call 911 or go the hospital immediately.
For more information about sepsis, visit sepsis.org.
Source: CHI Memorial; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention