Sepsis or an infection that gets into your bloodstream is a leading cause of death all over the world. 20% of all deaths are sepsis related. The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study reviewed medical records for 1990 to 2017 from 195 countries identifying 282 primary causes of death. In 2017 worldwide there were 11 million sepsis related deaths. This is a giant number.
The good news is the number of sepsis related deaths is decreasing. Between 1990 and 2017 the number of cases of sepsis has dropped.
The bad news is the number of deaths is still huge. One in 5 deaths worldwide is from sepsis. That is more than the number of fatalities from cancer. In American sepsis is the number 1 cause of in-hospital deaths. This costs the United States 24 billion dollars per year. CDC reports sepsis affects 1.7 million adults yearly in the US and contributes to 1/3 of all hospitalizations that lead to death.
What can we do to combat sepsis? Let’s look at what it is and how we contract it and steps we can use to prevent sepsis deaths.
Sepsis definition: A severe infection caused by pathogenic organisms, especially bacteria, in the blood or tissues. If untreated, a localized infection, as in the respiratory or urinary tracts, can lead to infection in the bloodstream and widespread inflammation, characterized initially by fever, chills, and other symptoms and later by septic shock. (dictionary.com scientific definition)
Sepsis is sometimes called septicemia. Sepsis and septicemia are the same condition.
Basically what happens is this: Your body is fighting an infection could be from a wound or an illness. Your body responds to this wound or illness by kicking in your immune system to fight the infection. The body uses the blood stream to fight infections by releasing chemicals into the blood. Sepsis occurs when the body responds to these chemicals in a harmful way. The quality and quantity of your blood is now compromised. Blood clotting and reduced blood flow to your limbs and organs is not good. Reduced blood flow harms your organs and tissues by depriving them of the nutrients and oxygen they need to work properly. This can be life-threatening.
- Bacterial Infections (scraped knee or paper cut). Bacterial infections can also come from IV lines, surgical, incisions, urinary catheters and bed sores.
- Viral Infections
- Fungal Infections
- Bloodstream Infections
- A sepsis infection can come from a medical problem such as appendicitis, a digestive infection, pneumonia, a urinary tract infection, a kidney infection, a bladder infection or a bone infection.
- Developing nations have the greatest risk but we are not immune in America or Western Europe. In fact some medical researchers think the incidence of sepsis deaths is on the rise.
- Car accident injuries
- A previous sepsis infection increase your chances of it happening again
- Compromised immune systems
- Those with chronic conditions Kidney or Lung Disease
- Those taking steroids (which suppress the immune system)
- The very young (under 5)
- The very old with additional health problems
- Those who have recently had surgery or been hospitalized
- People with Diabetes
- Pregnant Women
- Anyone with a wound or burn
- Mental confusion
- Fever, chills
- Low body temperature
- Low blood pressure – Systolic (first number in a blood pressure reading) under 100
- Decrease in urination
- Rapid pulse
- Rapid breathing higher than 22 breaths per minute
- Nausea vomiting or diarrhea
- Bacteria in the blood
- Too high a white blood count or too low a white blood count
- Low platelet count
- Low blood pressure
- Acid in the blood (acidosis) – High levels of lactic acid in your blood. This indicates that your cells are not using oxygen properly.
- Compromised liver or kidney function
If you have sepsis you will be admitted to an Intensive Care Unit in the hospital. You will be given fluids and oxygen to try and stop the infection, keep organs functioning and to regulate your blood pressure. If the specific bacteria that lead to the infection can be identified you will be administered medicine to fight the infection. In some cases surgery is required to drain or clean the infection.
The earlier treatment starts with antibiotics and intravenous fluids the better your chances.
- Blood Clots
- Organ Failure
- Tissue Death (Gangrene)
- Septic shock is when your blood pressure drops very low and can lead to the failure of your lungs, kidneys and liver.
Conclusion: Improving access to healthcare world wide will help stop sepsis. The earlier treatment can be administered the better the outcomes.
On a personal level it is best not to let wounds fester or illnesses linger. Seek medical attention as early as possible in order to prevent complications like sepsis. Protect your health as much as you can with healthy living practices: a nutritious diet, an active lifestyle and eliminate harmful habits. Staying healthy can keep you protected from sepsis since it develops from an existing infection from a wound or illness.
If you have recently been in the hospital - You NEED to Know the Signs of Sepsis - It is Life-Threatening! #HealthStatus
Sepsis is the number 1 cause of in-hospital deaths!
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