What Is Sepsis? Sepsis is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. The problem is that there isn’t a single test that can diagnose sepsis. Even a brief delay in treatment can be fatal. If you or a loved one have suffered from sepsis, contact us immediately. 750,000 Americans develop severe sepsis every year, according to an article in Bottom Line Personal Magazine. 40% of patients with severe sepsis will die. In patience who develop septic shock, their chance of survival is 50%. Septic shock is a dangerous drop in blood pressure that can lead to organ failure. Who Is At Risk? The risk for sepsis is highest among adults ages 65 and older. Sepsis is triggered by a bacterial infection, which means that those adults in hospitals who receive IV lines, urinary catheters or other invasive devices are at a higher risk. Pneumonia is the infection most likely to lead to sepsis. Although older adults are more at risk, anyone with an infection–an infected cut or the flu–can develop sepsis. Many of the deaths linked to the swine flu in 2009 were actually caused by sepsis. What Are The Warning Signs? In patients with sepsis, the inflammation that occurs when the body responds to an infection is systemic–it spreads throughout the body and often causes a loss of fluids that leads to high blood pressure.
- You are sicker than expected: the severity of your infection seems to be out of proportion with the illness
- You have a rapid heartbeat: patients who are developing sepsis will usually have tachycardia, a rapid heartbeat that exceeds 90 beats/minute
- You have a high or low temperature: both hypothermia and fever can indicate sepsis
- You have foul-smelling or discolored mucus: the common cold is unlikely to cause sepsis, but it is not impossible
- You are mentally confused: when sepsis has reached the stage that it’s interfering with circulation, it will cause mental confusion
- You have mottled skin: you may have blue or black patches of skin
- It is shiny and pink around your wound: This means there is a lot of tension in the tissue.
How Can I Prevent Sepsis?
- Get a pneumococcal pneumonia vaccination if you are 65 years or older, have chronic health problems, take medications that lower immunity, or if you are a smoker. Get the vaccine every 5 years.
- Get an annual flu shot: the rate of sepsis increases by about 16% during flu season.
- Clean wounds thoroughly: if you have a cut, scrape or burn, wash it several times a day with soap and water. Apply antibacterial ointment. Call your doctor immediately if there is pus, increased or streaking redness, or if the would feels warm.
Source: Bottom Line Personal Magazine Dr. Oz talks about sepsis on his segment “Sepsis: When Infections Turn Deadly”. Watch the episode here