Watch the video below for a brief overview of sepsis:
Sepsis occurs when your body overreacts to an infection. The infection can be from something that seems as innocent as an infected scratch from your favorite rose bush, a urinary tract infection, or even the flu. This overreaction to infection prompts the immune system to kick into overdrive. It can cause problems such as tissue damage leading to the need for amputations, liver failure, kidney failure, severe drops in blood pressure and even death.
Frequently Asked Questions
Sepsis can be caused from ANY type of infection. Some of the more common factors include wounds, pneumonia, bloodstream, urinary tract infection (UTI) and catheter sites.
While any type of infection – bacterial, viral, or fungal – can lead to sepsis, infections that more commonly result in sepsis include:
- Lungs, such as pneumonia
- Kidney, bladder, and other parts of the urinary system
- Digestive system
- Bloodstream (bacteremia)
- Catheter sites
- Wounds or burns
ANYONE CAN GET SEPSIS! Anyone can get sepsis from a newborn to an adult, which is why you should be aware of sepsis, recognize the symptoms and get treatment FAST! Did you know that more than 270,000 people die from sepsis each year in the U.S.? (That’s about 1 man, woman or child, every 2 minutes) for something that is usually easy to treat if recognized early.
- Very young children
- Older adults
- People with trauma or severe burns
- People with weakened immune systems (cancer, steroid use)
- People with chronic medical condition (diabetes, lung or kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, dialysis)
S – Shivering and fever
E – Extreme pain (worst ever)
P – Pale skin
S – Sleepy and difficult to arouse
I – Infection (symptoms of infection)
S – Shortness of breath
The Sepsis Alliance, encourages the use of the word TIME to help remember symptoms:
T – Change in body Temperature, increase or decrease
I – An Infection, that can be in any part of the body
M – Mental Decline, confusion, decreased responsiveness,
E – Extremely Ill …intense pain
Sepsis is life threatening and therefore should be taken very seriously! Sepsis treatment should begin right away since sepsis can get worse very quickly. The reaction to suspecting sepsis should be like a stroke or heart attack. ACT IMMEDIATELY!
Treatment for Sepsis may include:
- X-rays and lab tests (blood, urine, sputum) to determine the source of infection
- Intravenous (IV) fluids
- Medication to treat infection (antibiotics)
- Other therapies to support the organs and body tissues (ventilator, dialysis, blood pressure medications)
Possible Long-Term Effects
Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that often leaves sepsis survivors with physical, mental and emotional challenges. Post-sepsis syndrome (PSS) is a condition that affects up to 50% of sepsis survivors.
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of the limbs
- Repeat infections
- Poor appetite
- Reduced organ functions, e.g., kidney, liver, heart
- Skin rash
- Hair loss
- Panic attacks
- Loss of self-esteem
- Decreased cognitive (mental) functioning
- Memory loss
- Mood swings
- Lack of concentrating
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
SEPSIS can lead to recurrent infections that can have frequent hospitalizations
Ways to Prevent Infection and Sepsis
It is not known exactly why Sepsis occurs, but by limiting your exposure to infection you reduce your risk of developing Sepsis. You should always:
- Wash your hands, frequently and thoroughly.
- Take care of wounds and keep them clean.
- Treat all infections seriously, including urinary tract infections and pneumonia.
- Take antibiotics as prescribed.
- Cough into your elbow, not your hand.
- Stay up to date with vaccinations against illnesses like pneumonia and influenza.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle (nutritious food, exercise, hydration, rest).
- Seek medical attention if an illness does not improve or it gets worse.
- Get the flu vaccine every year, unless your doctor recommends otherwise.
- Ask your doctor if there are other vaccines you should get.
You can develop sepsis without knowing you have an infection. Remember…
• If you or anyone else experiences a combination of these symptoms: seek urgent medical care, call 911, or go to the nearest hospital with an advocate.
• It is okay to ask: “COULD THIS BE SEPSIS?”
After developing sepsis from a recent infection, Jessica received treatment at Wise Health System. You can listen to her story below:
You can help stop sepsis and save lives. Please visit Sepsis.org for more information.