What is Septicemia?
Septicemia, also known as sepsis, is a life-threatening condition. It can happen when bacteria from another infection – in the skin, lungs, urinary tract or somewhere else – enter the blood and spread throughout the body. Sepsis is the severe response of the body to the infection. If prompt treatment is not applied, sepsis can quickly lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and finally death.
Short statistics about septicemia in the USA
- CDC evaluated that 7 of 10 patients with sepsis recently had chronic diseases requiring frequent medical care. These common infections can lead to sepsis in adults:
- Lung infection such as pneumonia (35%);
- Kidney or urinary tract infection (25%);
- Gut, stomach, or intestine infection (11%);
- Skin infection (11%).
- More than 1.5 million Americans get sepsis every year.
- About 250,000 people in America die from sepsis every year.
- One of three patients who die in a hospital suffers from sepsis.
What causes sepsis?
Four types of infections are often linked to septicemia:
- lungs (pneumonia);
- kidney (urinary tract infection);
The most often identified bacteria that cause infections developing into sepsis include:
- Staphylococcus aureus (staph);
- Escherichia coli (E. coli);
- some types of Streptococcus;
Who is at risk?
Anyone can get an infection. Unluckily, almost every infection can cause sepsis. Certain groups of people are at a higher risk:
- Adults at 65 years or older;
- People with chronic medical conditions, such as lung disease, diabetes, cancer, and kidney disease;
- People with weak immune systems;
- Children younger than one year;
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of sepsis normally include a combination of any of the following conditions:
- Confusion or disorientation;
- Shortness of breath;
- High heart rate;
- Extreme pain or discomfort;
- Fever, or shivering, or feeling very cold;
- Clammy or sweaty skin;
Search for medical help immediately if you suppose you may have sepsis, or if your infection is getting worse.
How can you get ahead of sepsis?
- Discuss with your doctor about measures you can take to prevent infections. For example, take good care of chronic conditions and get recommended vaccines.
- Be aware of the symptoms of sepsis.
- Practice perfect personal hygiene.
- ACT AS FAST AS POSSIBLE! Search for medical care IMMEDIATELY when an infection gets worse.
Always remember that sepsis is a medical emergency. Time matters!
How is it diagnosed?
Doctors diagnose sepsis via some physical symptoms, mentioned above, like fever, low blood pressure, increased heart rate, and increased breathing rate. They also do laboratory tests that check for indications of infection and organ damage.
Many of the sepsis symptoms, such as fever and problematic breathing, are identical with those in other conditions. This makes sepsis hard to diagnose in its early stages.
What is the treatment?
Sepsis is treated in the hospital. Rapid, effective sepsis treatment, including antibiotics, maintenance of regular blood flow to organs, and proper therapy of the source of infection, can save lives.
Doctors prescribe antibiotics for sepsis as soon as possible. Many patients get oxygen and intravenous fluids to support blood and oxygen flows to organs. Other types of treatment may also be necessary, such as assisting breathing with a machine or kidney dialysis. In some cases, surgery is needed to remove tissue damaged by the infection.
The first steps in recovery
After the efficient cure of sepsis, rehabilitation usually begins in the hospital. The patient shall be slowly helped to move around and look after themselves: bathing, sitting up, standing, walking, going to the restroom, etc.
The purpose of rehabilitation is to restore the previous level of health or as close to it as possible. The patient is recommended to build up daily activities slowly and rest when tired.