Raising Sepsis Awareness
September is Sepsis Awareness Month. Below is some information from the CDC about sepsis, how you can help prevent it and what to do if you are concerned you may have it.
What is Sepsis?
Sepsis is the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to an infection which can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death. Sepsis can occur to anyone, at any time, from any type of infection, and can affect any part of the body. It can occur even after a minor infection. An infection occurs when germs enter a person’s body and multiply, causing illness and organ and tissue damage.
Who gets sepsis?
Anyone can get sepsis as a bad outcome from an infection, but the risk is higher in:
- people with weakened immune systems
- babies and very young children
- elderly people
- people with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, AIDS, cancer, and kidney or liver disease
- people suffering from a severe burn or wound
What are the symptoms of sepsis?
Since sepsis is the result of an infection, symptoms can include infection signs (diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat, etc.), as well as ANY of the symptoms below:
E—Extreme pain or general discomfort (“worst ever”)
P—Pale or discolored skin
S—Sleepy, difficult to rouse, confused
I—“I feel like I might die”
S—Short of breath
Why should I be concerned about sepsis?
Sepsis can be deadly. It kills more than 258,000 Americans each year and leaves thousands of survivors with life-changing after effects. According to CDC, there are over 1 million cases of sepsis each year, and it is the ninth leading cause of disease-related deaths.
What should I do if I think I have an infection or sepsis?
- Call your doctor or go to the emergency room immediately if you have any signs or symptoms of an infection or sepsis. This is a medical emergency.
- It’s important that you say, “I AM CONCERNED ABOUT SEPSIS.”
- If you are continuing to feel worse or not getting better in the days after surgery, ask your doctor about sepsis. Sepsis is a common complication of people hospitalized for other reasons.
How is sepsis treated?
People with sepsis are usually treated in the hospital. Doctors try to treat the infection, keep the vital organs working, and prevent a drop in blood pressure. Doctors treat sepsis with antibiotics as soon as possible. Many patients receive oxygen and intravenous (IV) fluids to maintain normal blood oxygen levels and blood pressure. Other types of treatment, such as assisting breathing with a machine or kidney dialysis, may be necessary. Sometimes surgery is required to remove tissue damaged by the infection.
How can I prevent sepsis?
- Get vaccinated
- Prevent infections that can lead to sepsis by:
- Cleaning scrapes and wound
- Practicing good hygiene (e.g., hand washing, bathing regularly)
- If you have an infection, look for signs like: fever, chills, rapid breathing and heartrate, rash, confusion, and disorientation.
How many people get sepsis?
CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics estimates that, based upon information collected for billing purposes, the number of times people were in the hospital with sepsis increased from 621,000 in the year 2000 to 1,141,000 in 2008. Between 28 and 50 percent of people who get sepsis die.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention