This is a post prepared under a contract funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and written on behalf of the Mom It Forward Influencer Network for use in CDC’s Get Ahead of Sepsis educational effort. Opinions on this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CDC.
The first time I heard about sepsis was over 20 years ago when I was in nursing school. Now I hear about someone I know having sepsis on a fairly regular basis. As a registered nurse, I understand how serious sepsis can be. But, I don't think this is something that most non-healthcare professionals realize. You need to know the truth about sepsis and how it can affect your family.
The Truth About Sepsis and How It Can Affect Your Family
What is Sepsis
I talk to a lot of people who don't even know what sepsis is or have never heard of it.
Sepsis is the body's extreme response to an infection. The bottom line is that sepsis is life-threatening. Without treatment, sepsis can quickly cause tissue damage, organ failure and death.
At least 250,000 Americans die each year from sepsis.
Infections Put You and Your Family at Risk for Sepsis
Anyone can get an infection, and almost any infection can lead to sepsis.
We know that anyone can get an infection, right? Well, sepsis happens when an infection you already have triggers a chain reaction throughout your body. This could be any kind of infection such as in your skin, lungs, urinary tract, etc.
Almost any infection can lead to sepsis.
How Can You Protect Your Family
The first step in protecting yourself and your family from sepsis is to learn about sepsis.
Next you need to be aware of infections that are not getting better or are getting worse and take these infections seriously! It can start from a seemingly innocent infection that doesn't resolve. Don't put off going to the doctor for unresolved infections. Remember that acting FAST could save a life!
Try to prevent infections whenever possible.
Lastly, you need to know the signs and symptoms of sepsis.
Symptoms of Sepsis
There are several symptoms of sepsis and a person could have ONE of these symptoms or a combination.
The symptoms of sepsis are:
- Confusion or disorientation
- Shortness of breath
- High heart rate
- Fever, or shivering, or feeling very cold
- Extreme pain or discomfort
- Clammy or sweaty skin
Preventing Sepsis is Personal
I know several people personally who have lost a loved one to sepsis. These deaths were UNEXPECTED. Some of these people had been in good health until they got an infection that didn't go away and led to sepsis.
Preventing sepsis is personal to me and I want to make sure the general public understands how life-threatening sepsis really can be.
Sepsis is a medical emergency. If you or your loved one suspect sepsis or has an infection that is not getting better or is getting worse, then ask your doctor, “Could this infection be leading to sepsis?”
To learn more about sepsis and how to prevent infections, visit www.cdc.gov/sepsis.
For more information about antibiotic prescribing and use, visit www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use.