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IV
09/18/2023

Sepsis Awareness Month

Sepsis is your body’s most extreme response to an infection. You may hear it called septicemia, the medical name for blood poisoning by germs such as bacteria, viruses or fungi. Sepsis can cause shock (called septic shock) and organ failure, which can be fatal in up to half of cases. Sepsis is a medical emergency. If not treated, sepsis can quickly cause tissue damage, organ failure and death.

Infections most often linked to sepsis are lung infections (pneumonia), urinary tract infections, skin infections and infections in the intestines. Three germs that most often develop into sepsis are staphylococcus aureus (staph), Escherichia coli (E. coli) and some types of strep.

An infection can happen to anyone, but certain things can make sepsis more likely, including:

  • Having a chronic health condition such as diabetes, cancer, lung disease, weakened immune system or kidney disease
  • Being age 65 or older
  • Being younger than 1 year old
  • Having community-acquired pneumonia
  • Having been in the hospital in the past, especially for an infection

Sepsis develops very quickly, possibly making you feel very ill. You may:

  • Lose interest in food and surroundings
  • Become feverish, very cold or have the chills
  • Have problems breathing
  • Have a high heart rate or low blood pressure
  • Become nauseated
  • Vomit
  • Be sensitive to light
  • Complain of a lot of pain or discomfort
  • Feel cold, with cool hands and feet
  • Become lethargic, anxious, confused or agitated
  • Develop a rash that can look like bruises

You may also fall into a coma. Sepsis can be fatal.

If you suspect sepsis, act fast. Sepsis is a life-threatening emergency that needs to be treated right away. You need to be in a hospital. Treatment starts as soon as possible. Treatment depends on your symptoms, age, general health and how severe the condition is.

Treatment includes antibiotics, managing blood flow to organs and stopping the source of the infection. Many people need oxygen and IV (intravenous) fluids to help get blood flow and oxygen to the organs. You may need to use a breathing machine (ventilator). You may also need kidney dialysis. Sometimes you may need surgery to remove tissue damaged by the infection.

Preventing infection is the way to prevent sepsis. One of the best ways to prevent infection is to wash your hands often with clean, running water for at least 20 seconds. Keeping your immune system strong can also help prevent sepsis. To do this:

  • Keep cuts clean and covered until healed.
  • Manage chronic health conditions such as diabetes.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Get recommended vaccines on schedule.
  • When an infected area is not getting better or is getting worse, get medical care.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for more information about sepsis.

location icon

Location Finder

Here's your guide to finding any of the facilities in the Aultman family of health services, including maps and contacts. 

symptom checker icon

Need a Doctor?

Aultman Medical Group's network of more than 240 providers is committed to high-level patient care.

calendar icon

Schedule an Appointment

Click below to complete an online form. 

 

donation icon

Donate Today

You can help support and enhance services, and in turn, help patients and their families who benefit from care received at Aultman.

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