Sepsis is a life-threatening medical emergency caused by the body’s response to an infection.
It often happens when an already existing infection you have probably in your skin, lungs, urinary tract, or somewhere else reacts and causes a chain reaction throughout your body.
If not quickly treated, it can rapidly cause tissue damage, organ failure, and even death.
Sepsis is a complication of an infection that can be contagious, but sepsis is not itself contagious.
While any type of infection bacterial, viral, or fungal can lead to sepsis, the most likely varieties include Pneumonia, Infection of the digestive system; which includes organs such as the stomach and colon; Infection of the kidney, bladder, and other parts of the urinary system and Bloodstream infection (bacteremia).
World Sepsis Day is celebrated annually on September 13 to create awareness about the deadly disease.
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Who is at risk of getting sepsis?
- Adults aged 65 and above
- Pregnant women
- Children younger than 1
- People who have chronic conditions, such as diabetes, kidney or lung disease, or cancer
People who have weakened immune systems such as those with HIV or those in chemotherapy treatment for cancer
Symptoms of Sepsis
- Shortness of breath
- Extreme weakness
- Fever or chills
- Extreme pain or discomfort
- Mental Confusion or disorientation
- High heart rate or low blood pressure
- Patches of discolored skin
- Decreased urination
Diagnosis of Sepsis
If you eventually notice these symptoms, your doctor will advise you to run some tests just to make a diagnosis and know how severe your infection is. Some tests you will be asked to run include;
- Blood Test
- a urine test (to check for bacteria in your urine)
- a wound secretion test (to check an open wound for an infection)
- a mucus secretion test (to identify germs responsible for an infection)
- X-rays to view the lungs
If left untreated, Sepsis can quickly lead to septic shock and death. Doctors use a number of medications to treat sepsis, including:
- antibiotics via IV to fight infection
- vasoactive medications to increase blood pressure
- insulin to stabilize blood sugar
- corticosteroids to reduce inflammation
Taking steps to prevent the spread of infection can reduce your risk of developing sepsis. These include:
- Staying up to date on your vaccinations. Get vaccinated for the flu, pneumonia, and other infections.
- Practicing good hygiene. This means practicing proper wound care, handwashing, and bathing regularly.
- Once you notice some signs of the infection, get immediate care. Every minute counts when it comes to sepsis treatment. The sooner you get treatment, the better the outcome.