By Ryan MacArthur |

A 2015 study from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine reported that healthcare providers diagnose more than 1.6 million Americans with sepsis each year. This serious illness can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, amputation, and even death.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), sepsis claims the lives of 258,000 people in the United States annually, more than prostate cancer, breast cancer, and AIDS combined.

While young children are more likely to come down with it, older adults, those suffering from chronic disease, and patients with weakened immune systems are also considered high risk.

But how does it occur and how do doctors treat it? Learn more about what patients and caregivers should keep an eye out for.

The Basics

Sepsis is the body’s reaction to a severe infection. As the illness worsens, the immune system floods the body with a range of chemicals that cause inflammation and can make organs malfunction, push the body into shock, and eventually lead to death.

Typically, infections in the urinary tract, respiratory system, abdomen, and skin are more likely to cause sepsis.

Symptoms

The CDC lists fever, shaking/chills, flushed skin, racing heartbeat, and confusion as some of the more common symptoms. As the illness progresses, a patient’s blood pressure usually drops dangerously low and their organs can shut down.

Depending on the individual, symptoms can take hours, days or weeks to set in. If a patient demonstrates symptoms they should receive medical attention as quickly as possible. Sepsis is treatable and survival rates increase when it’s caught and treated early.

Treatment

A combination of antibiotics and fluids are one of the more common treatments. While the antibiotics fight the infection, healthcare providers use IV therapy to provide the body with extra fluids to prevent shock by keeping blood pressure from dropping too low.

According to an article by Sepsis.org, “Giving the fluids by IV allows the healthcare staff to track how much fluid is being administered and to control the type of fluid the patient is getting.” By giving the body enough fluids to ensure normal organ function, the body is able to better combat the effects from sepsis.

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References –

https://www.med.unc.edu/pediatrics/news/2015/june/june-10/code-sepsis

https://www.nigms.nih.gov/Education/Pages/factsheet_sepsis.aspx

https://www.sepsis.org/sepsis/treatment/

https://www.cdc.gov/sepsis/datareports/index.html

 

 

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