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Understanding Sepsis

What is Sepsis?

Sepsis is the body’s extreme, life-threatening reaction to an infection. The reaction can be triggered by almost any type of infection and is treated as a medical emergency that needs to be treated immediately. Without quick medical treatment, sepsis can quickly lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death.

What causes sepsis?

Sepsis occurs when the body is fighting an infection, usually a bacterial infection of the skin, urinary tract, lungs or gastrointestinal tract. But it can also be caused by viral infections such as Covid-19 or flu.

When the body fights infection, it sends all the necessary antibodies and chemicals to the place of infection. For unknown reasons, these chemicals sometimes start to attack the body’s own organs and tissue. This causes inflammation which damages organs, causes blood clots, and limbs and organs can be deprived of the essential nutrients and oxygen they need.

What are the symptoms of sepsis?

Slurred speech or confusion

Extreme shivering or muscle pain

Passing no urine (in a day)

Severe breathlessness

It feels like you’re going to die

Skin mottled or discoloured

Who is more likely to get sepsis?

  • Infants
  • Elderly
  • Diabetics
  • Women who have just given birth
  • Those who have a weakened immune system
  • Those who have recently had surgery or a serious illness
  • Those who have chronic medical conditions such as cancer, kidney disease or lung disease

What can you do to prevent sepsis?

  • Care for wounds properly
  • Get vaccinations that are available
  • Always wash your hands effectively
  • Follow your GP’s advice if you are recovering from an injection
  • Sepsis is not spreadable although the infection that initially caused it, may be infectious

Want to know more?

There are some useful sites with interesting and insightful information about sepsis:

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