We’ve all had an infection. For most, it is something like the flu or strep throat. The majority of infections come and go with just a bit of rest and antibiotics. Many are just brief annoyances, but some are more difficult and can cause deadly complications like sepsis.
Sepsis is caused by the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection, and can cause tissue damage, organ failure, and death. It is difficult to diagnose, happens quickly, and can be confused with other conditions in the early stages. When quickly recognized, it can be treated and lives are saved.
While sepsis can occur to anyone, at any time, from any type of infection, and can attack any part of your body there are some common infections that can lead to sepsis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, four types of infections are often associated with sepsis: lung, urinary tract, skin, and gut. Although anyone can develop sepsis, it occurs most often in people older than 65 years or younger than 1 year, who have weakened immune systems, or have chronic medical conditions like diabetes.
The good news is there are steps you can take to prevent sepsis.
- Get vaccinated! Make sure you and your loved ones stay up to date on their vaccinations against the flu, pneumonia, and other infections. Talk to your primary care provider about what vaccinations you should receive
- Prevent infections by cleaning scrapes and wounds and practicing good hygiene
- If you have a severe infection, be on the lookout for signs and symptoms like shivering, fever, or very cold, extreme pain or discomfort, clammy or sweaty skin, confusion or disorientation, short of breath, and high heart rate
- According to the CDC, 90% of adults and 70% of children who developed sepsis had a health condition that put them at risk
- For 80% of patients sepsis begins outside of the hospital
- 7 in 10 patients with sepsis recently used health care services or had chronic diseases requiring frequent medical care
- You can prevent sepsis by getting all of your doctor recommended vaccinations, cleaning scrapes and wounds, and practicing good hygiene like regular hand-washing