September is Sepsis Awareness Month and Owensboro Health is working to spread the word about this life-threatening condition.
Sepsis, also known as septicemia or blood poisoning, is the body’s response to a widespread infection. This condition is a medical emergency and time is a factor, like with other medical emergencies such as a heart attack or stroke. Patients who do not receive prompt treatment are at risk for organ failure, coma, amputations, and death. For patients who survive sepsis, there may be long-term health issues, including cognitive impairment, permanent damage to organs and loss of organ function, and more.
Sepsis, also known as septicemia or blood poisoning, is the body’s response to a widespread infection.
Though sepsis is most common in the elderly, the very young and in patients with compromised immune systems or other chronic problems, it can happen to anyone suffering from an infection. Sepsis is the leading cause of death in hospitals in the United States, according to national sepsis organization, Sepsis Alliance, but the vast majority of sepsis cases start in the community, not in hospitals. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kentucky ranks sixth in sepsis death rates per capita.
According to Sepsis Alliance, sepsis is also critically under-recognized and only about half of the population have heard of it. Recognizing sepsis symptoms quickly can not only save a life, but also can make a difference in quality of life after surviving sepsis. Remember the signs and symptoms of sepsis by spelling out its name:
S: Shivering, fever or chills
E: Extreme pain, discomfort or swelling
P: Pale, clammy or discolored skin
S: Sleepy, confused or disoriented, slow to respond or understand
I: “I feel like I might die” or feeling very sick
S: Shortness of breath, trouble breathing or rapid heartbeat
If you suspect sepsis in yourself or a loved one, treat it like a medical emergency. Call 911 or immediately go to the nearest hospital emergency department.
“Early recognition is key,” said Dr. Adrian Yeiser, head of the Hospitalists group at Owensboro Health. “Because it is extremely important to recognize and treat sepsis early, it’s crucial to educate the community about sepsis.”