If you have an infection, your body can develop a life-threatening reaction known as sepsis. Sepsis takes more than 258,000 American lives each year according to the Centers for Disease Control. Here’s what you need to know about sepsis and how you can spot the symptoms.
What to Know About Sepsis
Sepsis occurs when your immune system responds to an infection in an extreme manner that causes inflammation throughout the body. Something as simple as an untreated cut or as serious as improper healing from a procedure can provoke the response.
Typically, sepsis develops in people who are already sick and have weakened immune systems, such as seniors and infants. It progresses rapidly and can cause tissue damage, organ failure, and death if not promptly treated.
The Causes of Sepsis
Sepsis can develop in anyone who has almost any infection. The four types of infections most commonly linked with sepsis include:
If your body already has one of these infections, it can start a chain reaction that leads to sepsis.
Though no one is immune to sepsis, some people have a higher risk, including:
Adults over 65
Children under 1 year old
Those with chronic illness
Those with weakened immune systems
Sepsis by the Numbers
As many as 87% of sepsis cases start in the community.
The risk of dying from sepsis increases by as much as 8% for every hour treatment is delayed.
Sepsis affects nearly 49 million people worldwide each year and is the most common killer of children, taking more than 3.4 million each year.
More than 1.7 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with sepsis each year, that is 1 every 20 seconds.
270,000 people die from sepsis each year in the U.S.,1 every 2 minutes; this is more than from prostate cancer, breast cancer, and opioid overdoses combined.
Sepsis causes at least 261,000 maternal deaths each year worldwide and is a cause of increasing pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S.
In 2012, there were more than 13,700 sepsis-related amputations in the U.S. This works out to an average of 38 amputations per day.
How to Get Ahead of Sepsis
While this condition can seem daunting, there are ways to lower your risk of developing this reaction.
Monitor any chronic conditions and stay up-to-date on all recommended vaccines. Talk to your doctor or nurse about any additional steps they recommend for you to take to prevent infections.
Practice thorough hand washing and other good hygiene, and keep cuts clean and covered until healed.
Know the symptoms of sepsis.
Understand how important it is to seek medical care IMMEDIATELY if you suspect sepsis or have an infection that’s not getting better or is getting worse.
Take the TIME to Learn About Sepsis
You can remember the symptoms of sepsis easily with the acronym TIME.
Temperature: higher or lower than normal
Infection: May have signs and symptoms of an infection
Mental Decline: confused, sleepy, difficult to rouse
Extremely Ill: severe pain, discomfort, shortness of breath
If you have an infection and any of the above symptoms, particularly in someone who has recently had surgery, an invasive procedure, a cut, or an infection, seek medical treatment immediately. The final stage of sepsis, known as septic shock, can be fatal.
Recognizing the signs of sepsis can save your life. If you or someone you know is showing any of the above symptoms, don’t waste another minute. Locate your nearest St. Luke’s Health emergency room now to get quality care when you need it most.