September is Sepsis Awareness Month. Every two minutes, someone in the US dies from sepsis. Many people have never heard of it, but simply knowing the signs and symptoms about sepsis can save a life. But what is sepsis, anyway?
Sepsis is a life threatening emergency, in which the body overreacts to an infection. This can result in a drop in blood pressure and organ dysfunction. It can happen to anyone - but certain populations are at higher risk. Those who are very young, elderly, or have compromised immune systems are at greater risk.
Sepsis can lead to organ failure, amputation, and even death. Symptoms of sepsis may include a combination of shivering/chills, fever, extreme pain or discomfort, pale or discolored skin, sleepiness and difficultly to rouse,shortness of breath, or racing heart. It is important to seek medical attention right away if you have an infection or you suspect an infection, and you are showing a combination of these symptoms. Go to your doctor or local emergency room and say "I'm concerned about sepsis." The quicker sepsis is diagnosed and treated, the higher the chance of survival, with no or minimal long-term after affects.
Every year, more than 258,000 people in the US die from sepsis, more than from prostate cancer, breast cancer, and AIDS combined. The most devastating part is that sepsis is treatable, especially when it's caught early and treated properly.
The month of September is set aside to raise awareness for sepsis education, including the signs and symptoms, because even just knowing what it is can save someone's life.
Know the signs:
S— Shivering, fever or very cold
E— Extreme pain or general discomfort
P— Pale or discolored skin
S— Sleepy, difficult to rouse, confused
I— "I feel like I might die"
S— Shortness of breath
Prevent infection in the first place by using good hygiene - regular hand washing, properly caring for open wounds, getting vaccinations, and seeking medical attention if you suspect sepsis.
If you do suspect sepsis, medical attention is important. Learn more about our emergency care or check current average ER wait times.