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DO YOU KNOW – The dangers of sepsis

Considering there are 150,000 cases every year in the UK, resulting in over 44,000 deaths, it’s time we all got a bit more sepsis savvy.

If you don’t know the danger or signs, you’re far from alone. But as deaths can be avoided if the condition is spotted and treated quickly enough, it pays to know the symptoms.

Also known as septicaemia or blood poisoning, Sepsis is a life-threatening condition caused by the way the body responds to germs – usually common bacteria which we all come into contact with every day without problems. Sometimes, however, the body responds abnormally to these infections and causes sepsis, potentially leading to shock and multiple organ failure. As it’s triggered by bacterial infections, a cold or flu is unlikely to lead to sepsis, but it can occur following chest infections like pneumonia, water infections, problems in the abdomen like gall bladder infections, or simple skin injuries.

Treatment for sepsis is often a care package called the ‘Sepsis Six’; three treatments and three risk assessment measurements. The treatments are rapid intravenous antibiotics, infection drainage, and fluid to restore circulation, as blood pressure tends to fall with sepsis and organs don’t get as much blood and oxygen. It’s recommended that treatment’s started within an hour of the condition first being suspected. For severe sepsis, for every hour that treatment is delayed, the risk of death goes up by 8%, but if the ‘Sepsis Six’ is used, the chance of surviving increases from 60% to 80%. If caught early, the outlook is good for the vast majority of patients.


Key symptoms include slurred speech and confusion, extreme shivering and breathlessness, and mottled or very pale skin. In children, symptoms can be slightly different, and doctors advise that if a child is breathing very fast, their skin looks a strange colour (mottled, blueish or very pale), they’re very lethargic or hard to wake up and have an abnormal or weak cry, medical attention should immediately be sought. SIX SEPSIS SYMPTOMS : Slurred speech or confusion : Extreme shivering or muscle pain : Passing no urine all day : Severe breathlessness : A feeling of doom, like you might die : Mottled, bluish or very pale skin


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