The dangers of Sepsis
According to the UK Sepsis Trust, 5 people die with sepsis every hour in the UK and one in five deaths around the world are caused by sepsis, also known as blood poisoning.
It is also estimated that 11 million people a year are dying from sepsis – more than are killed by cancer.
These are terrifying figures, but would you know how to recognise the symptoms?
What is sepsis?
Sepsis (sometimes called septicaemia or blood poisoning) is the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection or injury. Normally our immune system fights infection but sometimes, for reasons we do not yet fully understand it attacks our organs and tissues and if not rapidly treated can lead to death.
This sounds dire, but if recognised early enough and treated with antibiotics patients can recover although some may be left with permanent life-changing after effects.
How is sepsis caused?
You cannot catch sepsis from another person and most cases are caused by common bacteria, which normally don’t make us ill. A huge variety of different germs, like e-coli, streptococcus, MRSA or C diff can cause sepsis.
Sepsis can happen as a result to any injury or infection, anywhere in the body. Some of these may be as a result of:
- an infected cut or bite
- a wound (sometimes post surgery)
- a leg ulcer or cellulitis
- a urine infection in the bladder
- a chest infection (pneumonia)
- a burst ulcer or a hole in the bowel
What are the symptoms of sepsis?
Sepsis can initially look like flu, gastroenteritis or a chest infection. There is no one sign, but here is a how to spot sepsis in an adult according to the UK Sepsis Trust:
Slurred speech or confusion
Extreme shivering or muscle pain
Passing no urine in a day
It feels like your’re going to die
Skin mottled or discoloured
If you or another adult has one or more of these symptoms then medical help must be sought urgently as the quicker it is treated, the better the outcome.
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