Sepsis strikes more than a million Americans every year. Recent numbers say that between 28 and 50% of people who get sepsis will not survive it. That's far more deaths in the United States than from breast cancer, stroke, and auto accidents combined. Sepsis can strike anyone at anytime and according to the Centers for Disease Control only 55% of Americans know what sepsis is.
Kary Przymus is a registered nurse, and the Sepsis Coordinator with UCHealth Memorial and says, "Sepsis is the body's overwhelming response to infection. You and I can develop an infection at anytime and get over it just fine, but there are some people it affects differently. Mainly the elderly, the very young, or people that are more sick than others with a chronic disease such as cancer, or liver disease, and sepsis can take it's toll on those patients."
The CDC has launched a new campaign to raise awareness about sepsis in an effort to decrease the number of deaths from septic shock each year. Przymus says, “It's a matter of getting the word out there. Sepsis has been known in the past as a blood poisoning or a complication of a certain condition. When we hear someone passes away, they will say they passed away from a complication of pneumonia, they won't say the word sepsis. In recent years sepsis has become more known and we are encouraging everyone to call it what it is, even our providers. If the patient has sepsis we want them to use the word sepsis."
Those at most risk of sepsis are:
The very young
People with a weakened immune system
People with a chronic disease
People with a severe burn, or wound
Sepsis also presents no one single sign or symptom, it's more a combination of oftentimes subtle symptoms that follow as the result of an infection. The CDC breaks down the warning signs with an acronym of SEPSIS.
S - Shivering, fever or very cold
E - Extreme pain or general discomfort, as in the "worst ever"
P - Pale or discolored skin
S - Sleepy, or difficulty waking up or a state of confusion
I - "I might die" feeling
S - Shortness of breath.
Przymus also says, another thing to be on the lookout for is if you have been to the doctor for treatment, and you're just not getting better. “Especially someone who has been to the doctor, they may have been at home, or have been on antibiotics. Normally a patient on antibiotics will start feeling better in 2 or 3 days. If they are not, and they start running a fever, or start getting more tired and can't get out of bed, those are all signs the patient is getting worse and they need to go back to the doctor. Part of early recognition of sepsis is early treatment to save lives, so we want to get started on treatment right away."