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Sepsis: A Killer You Want to Know More About

January 8, 2017
Plain English Version


Sepsis is not a disease like cancer. It is a reaction your body may have when it fights infection. A doctor explained, “Your body has an army of ways to fight infection. With sepsis, your body is dealing with friendly fire.” Healthy people can develop sepsis. It is from an infection that is not well treated. Proper use of antibiotics is usually the treatment.

Most people have not heard of sepsis.

Sepsis causes blood clots and leaky blood vessels. The body’s organs begin to fail. Symptoms include chills or fever, extreme pain or discomfort, clammy or sweaty skin. Symptoms may also include confusion. Or disorientationshortness of breath and a high heart rate.

A doctor said, “We want people to be able to recognize sepsis just like they recognize a heart attack or stroke. They should not wait until Thursday when the doctor can see them. But go to the emergency room right away.”

If a person develops septic shock, blood pressure drops. Sepsis chokes off blood flow to the body’s organs. For every hour without antibiotics, the chance of dying goes up by 8 percent.

Most experts thought people picked up sepsis infections in hospitals. New findings reveal that sepsis usually starts when the patient is at home. Sepsis may not be listed as the cause of death. It often happens in patients with other illnesses.

Sepsis is often from lung or urinary tract infections. It also comes from skin or intestinal infections.

Most sepsis victims are people over age 65. Infants also can develop sepsis. The ailment also attacks people with diabetes. People with immune system problems have to be alert to sepsis symptoms.

A New York hospital failed to spot a young boy’s sepsis in its emergency room. He died as a result. Since then, a law passed that requires New York hospitals to screen for sepsis.

Sepsis: experts say everyone should become familiar with the word. People should know its danger, symptoms and, treatment.

Source: The New York Times September 19, 2016

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