Submitted by Alicia DeRuscio, B.S.
Community Education Assistant
What Is Sepsis?
The National Institute of Health defines sepsis as a serious medical condition caused by the body’s immune response to an infection. In order to fight an infection, your body releases chemicals into the blood that cause inflammation and affect blood flow. Poor blood flow results in a lack of oxygen and nutrients supplied to organs, which can lead to organ failure and, in severe cases, death.
It’s important to protect yourself against sepsis by knowing the risk factors, recognizing the symptoms, and talking with your healthcare provider to stay ahead of sepsis!
What Causes Sepsis?
There are many types of disease-causing organisms that can cause sepsis including bacteria, fungi and viruses. The National Institute of General Medical Sciences lists bacteria as the most common cause of sepsis. Often times, sepsis occurs from an infection within the blood, but sepsis can also result from an infection of a single body part such as the lungs, the skin, or the urinary tract.
Who Is At Risk For Sepsis?
According the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, anyone can be at risk for sepsis. Infections occur in all people, and all infections can lead to sepsis. However, individuals with chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease are at greater risk for developing infections. Those more commonly affected by sepsis include adults 65 years or older, children under the age of one, and individuals with a weakened immune system.
What Are The Symptoms?
If you have an infection that does not improve, experience any of the following symptoms, or feel you may be at risk for sepsis, the CDC recommends contacting your healthcare provider immediately:
- Confusion or disorientation
- Shortness of breath
- High or rapid heart rate
- Fever, shivering or feeling very cold
- Extreme pain or discomfort
- Feeling clammy or sweaty
How Can I Protect Myself?
In order to protect your health, talk with your healthcare provider about preventing infection, discuss the risk for sepsis, and how to manage chronic conditions. The CDC also recommends educating yourself and your loved ones on sepsis, as well as practicing good hand hygiene. Make sure to wash your hands anytime they are soiled or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to kill germs and prevent the spread of bacteria.
If you would like to learn more, attend a special program on ‘All About Sepsis’ presented by Dr. Frederick Goldberg, Littauer’s Vice President of Medical Affairs & Chief Medical Officer, on October 24 in Littauer’s Auditorium.
You are invited to join us for a buffet-style luncheon at 11:30 for $6 or attend the presentation only at 12 noon at no charge. To attend, call HealthLink Littauer at 518-736-1120 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.