What is Sepsis?

What is Sepsis?

Sepsis, also known as blood poisoning, can occur when the body’s immune system reacts to an infection and begins to damage its own tissues and organs. It is difficult to diagnose but can escalate quickly and become life-threatening as blood pressure drops and circulation to vital organs slows.

This condition is unpredictable and can happen to anyone – even the young and healthy.

Sepsis can be caused by a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection – including:

  • Flu
  • Pneumonia
  • UTI or kidney infection
  • Infection in the blood (caused by open wounds, including cuts and scrapes)

Symptoms of Sepsis

Sepsis is difficult to diagnose because its symptoms closely resemble that of the flu or another virus. A person will begin to feel very sick and exhibit some of these symptoms:

  • High temperature
  • Pale and mottled skin
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heart rate

Where the flu develops and changes over the course of a couple of days, sepsis symptoms come on quicker and are life threatening without timely diagnosis and treatment.

How is Sepsis Treated?

Sepsis caused by a bacterial infection can be treated with antibiotics, which must be administered intravenously in severe situations. Fluid and oxygen may be needed depending on how severe the case is.

Without treatment, sepsis can lead to organ failure and death. This is why it is so crucial to recognise sepsis symptoms early on.

How to Prevent Sepsis

Sepsis is caused by infection. The following tips will help prevent infection and reduce the possibility of sepsis:

  • Any wound, including small scrapes and cuts, should be immediately washed with clean water
  • Practice good hygiene (such as regular hand washing)
  • Get vaccinated against the flu, pneumonia, and other conditions that can lead to sepsis
  • Educate yourself and others on the symptoms of sepsis, so it can be recognised quickly and treated