Sepsis occurs in the community at large and in hospitals. It is deadlier than prostate cancer, breast cancer and AIDS, combined, with approximately 1.5 million cases annually. It’s the eleventh leading cause of death overall, with more than 258,000 fatalities in the United States each year.
This is why it is so critical to recognize sepsis as quickly as possible. Aventura Hospital and Medical Center is equipped with computer systems that help develop real-time monitoring to predict who might be at risk for sepsis. This gives us the ability to intervene early and sets a new, better standard of healthcare.
What is sepsis?
Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection. Sepsis occurs when the body responds to an infection by releasing organ-damaging toxins into the bloodstream. Not everyone who has an infection will develop sepsis, but everyone with sepsis already has an infection.
Who can get sepsis?
Anyone can develop sepsis, but the elderly, infants and children, or those with weakened immune systems, and those that are already significantly ill are most at risk.
What are the symptoms of sepsis?
There is an easy way to remember the warning signs of sepsis:
- Shivering, as with a fever, or feeling very cold
- Extreme pain or even general discomfort
- Pale or discolored skin
- Sleepy, difficult to rouse, confused
- “I feel like I might die,” or other feelings of extreme pain and distress
- Shortness of breath
How is sepsis treated?
If sepsis is suspected, antibiotics and intravenous fluids should be administered right away. Oxygen, other supportive therapies or surgery to remove damaged tissue may also be used to treat sepsis.
How is sepsis prevented?
You can help prevent sepsis by preventing infections that can lead to it. Some preventive steps you can take include:
- Get appropriate, recommended vaccinations to prevent illnesses
- Practice good hygiene by washing your hands frequently
- Clean cuts or wounds thoroughly if you are injured
- Take antibiotics as prescribed
Seek medical help immediately if an illness or infection doesn’t improve, if you suspect you have sepsis or if you present any symptoms of an infection.