Is it sepsis?
Posted By Maryann On JUNE 27,2017
Never heard of "sepsis"? You're in good company. This little-known condition is on the rise. Between 1 and 3 million people develop sepsis in any given year. And the consequences are significant if not treated quickly.
Sepsis is not a contagious disease. It is an overreaction of the body's immune system when fighting an existing infection, especially from wounds, burns, or pneumonia. Even a bladder infection.
Tops the unplanned readmission list
Even more surprising, sepsis is the Number 1 single diagnosis on the list of unplanned readmissions (people getting readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge).
Heart failure: 6.7%
Acute myocardial infarction (heart attack): 1.3%
If not treated…
If sepsis is not caught and treated early, the consequences can be severe: drop in blood pressure, kidney failure, and even death (between 15% and 30% of septic patients die from the condition).
Sepsis develops in response to an existing infection. The elderly by far are the most vulnerable, as are people with long-term conditions (diabetes, CHF, kidney disease, COPD, cancer) or compromised immune systems. People who have become septic before are at greater risk of becoming septic again.
Early identification is key
The most successful treatments are those that begin in the early stage of the body's reaction. Usually a person is already battling an infection, but suddenly takes a turn for the worse:
Fever and chills
Clamminess and nausea
Fast heart rate
Better to be safe than sorry
Eighty percent of septic episodes begin at home. With older adults, the initial signs tend to be confusion and extreme, sudden fatigue. If you think it's sepsis, get to an urgent care or emergency facility right away. The first few hours are critical. Treatments will likely include antibiotics, IV fluids, and medications to keep the blood pressure up.
Fortunately, there are things to reduce the likelihood of sepsis. Check out the Is it sepsis? article in our monthly newsletter for family caregivers.
Frequent infections? Frailty?
If your loved one is beset with infections, it may be time to get more help. As the north New Jersey experts in family caregiving, Caring Choices can help you determine which support services make the most sense for your situation. Give us a call at 973-627-4087. You don't have to do this alone!