How to spot sepsis

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How to spot sepsis

​More people die from sepsis each year than bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined. Also known as 'blood poisoning,' sepsis signs are easily missed, but this potentially life-threatening condition can be treated if caught in the early stages.

What is sepsis?

Sepsis occurs when chemicals the immune system releases into the bloodstream to fight an infection, cause inflammation throughout the body instead.

According to the UK Sepsis Trust, sepsis is the biggest cause of death in UK pregnancies, and 44,000 people in the UK lose their lives to sepsis-related infections each year. Everyone is at risk of developing sepsis, although some people are more vulnerable, such as those who have medical conditions that weaken the immune system, like HIV or leukaemia, the very young or very old and those who are pregnant.

It is often difficult to diagnose sepsis, as there are many different potential symptoms. However, the most common symptoms recognised in sufferers include: slurred speech or confusion, passing little to no urine in a day, having a fast respiratory rate, having mottled, bluish or discoloured skin and extreme shivering and muscle pain. Not everyone suffering with sepsis will experience all of these symptoms simultaneously.

Tips for avoiding sepsis

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to avoid developing sepsis.

  • First and foremost - get vaccinated

  • Thirty-five percent of sepsis cases in the 2017 CDC study stemmed from pneumonia

  • Ensure that any open wounds are cleaned carefully and thoroughly

  • Treat urinary tract infections promptly. A quarter of recorded sepsis cases are the result of untreated urinary tract infections

  • Lastly, be vigilant in avoiding infections in hospitals by frequently washing your hands. Whilst sepsis itself is not contagious, the pathogens that may cause sepsis can be passed from person to person via contaminated utensils or clothing

If you are under the impression that you may be affected, seek urgent medical advice. If there is a Newcross healthcare professional to hand, certainly get a second opinion. At Newcross, our nurses and healthcare staff have the clinical expertise to recognise the signs of sepsis. However, if your symptoms are severe, dial 999.

For more healthcare articles, take a look at our blog.