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Thursday, September 28, 2017

September is Sepsis Awareness Month

Sepsis can be sneaky and can really cause a lot of problems. A few years ago, my now ex-doctor injected my swollen knee with a cortisone injection to help with the inflammation and pain. I have Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (information about CRPS can be found here: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Complex-Regional-Pain-Syndrome-Fact-Sheet.


Well, either the needle was a problem or the injection itself was an issue, or both, because when I arrived at home I was in a ton of pain. My knee was red, swollen more, and I could barely walk on it. I called the doctor and he told me to meet him at the Emergency Room. I remember being so scared because I did not know what was going to happen. He assessed me at the hospital and told me that I had sepsis in my knee and that I needed emergency surgery to flush out my knee and clean it.



I was terrified. I lost my brother-in-law to sepsis, and I have had friends who have passed from being septic. My ex doctor was able to clear the sepsis by surgery. He admitted me to the hospital to give me IV antibiotics and wanted to observe me. Thankfully, it was resolved and I did not have it spread. It was a scary moment for me because I had no clue what to do and I knew it could be fatal. I'm thankful it was eradicated from my knee and body.


So, what is sepsis? What causes it?



Image Credit: https://www.cdc.gov/media/dpk/diseases-and-conditions/sepsis/images/what-is-sepsis.jpg




September is sepsis awareness month. Sepsis is explained by www.sepsis.org,

"Sepsis is the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection that can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death. In other words, it’s your body’s over active and toxic response to an infection.

Your immune system usually works to fight any germs (bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites) to prevent infection. If an infection does occur, your immune system will try to fight it, although you may need help with medication such as antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, and antiparasitics. However, for reasons researchers don’t understand, sometimes the immune system stops fighting the 'invaders,' and begins to turn on itself. This is the start of sepsis.

Some people are at higher risk of developing sepsis because they are at higher risk of contracting an infection. These include the very young, the very old, those with chronic illnesses, and those with a weakened or impaired immune system.

Patients are diagnosed with sepsis when they develop a set of signs and symptoms related to sepsis. Sepsis is not diagnosed based on an infection itself. If you have more than one of the symptoms of sepsis, especially if there are signs of an infection or you fall into one of the higher risk groups, your doctor will likely suspect sepsis.

Sepsis progresses to severe sepsis when in addition to signs of sepsis, there are signs of organ dysfunction, such as difficulty breathing (problems with the lungs), low or no urine output (kidneys), abnormal liver tests (liver), and changes in mental status (brain). Nearly all patients with severe sepsis require treatment in an intensive care unit (ICU).

Septic shock is the most severe level and is diagnosed when your blood pressure drops to dangerous levels.



Image Credit: https://image.slidesharecdn.com/sepsis05-12definitief-131213034421-phpapp01/95/sepsis-05-12-definitief-6-638.jpg?cb=1386906363



Sepsis has been named as the most expensive in-patient cost in American hospitals in 2014 at nearly $24 billion each year. Forty percent of patients diagnosed with severe sepsis do not survive. Up to 50% of survivors suffer from post-sepsis syndrome. Until a cure for sepsis is found, early detection is the surest hope for survival and limiting disability for survivors."




Image Credit: www.sepsis.org



According to the Mayo Clinic (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sepsis/symptoms-causes/dxc-20169787,

"Symptoms and Causes
By Mayo Clinic Staff Print



Symptoms

Many doctors view sepsis as a three-stage syndrome, starting with sepsis and progressing through severe sepsis to septic shock. The goal is to treat sepsis during its early stage, before it becomes more dangerous.




Sepsis

To be diagnosed with sepsis, you must exhibit at least two of the following symptoms, plus a probable or confirmed infection:

Body temperature above 101 F (38.3 C) or below 96.8 F (36 C)
Heart rate higher than 90 beats a minute
Respiratory rate higher than 20 breaths a minute



Severe sepsis

Your diagnosis will be upgraded to severe sepsis if you also exhibit at least one of the following signs and symptoms, which indicate an organ may be failing:

Significantly decreased urine output
Abrupt change in mental status
Decrease in platelet count
Difficulty breathing
Abnormal heart pumping function
Abdominal pain



Septic shock

To be diagnosed with septic shock, you must have the signs and symptoms of severe sepsis — plus extremely low blood pressure that doesn't adequately respond to simple fluid replacement.




When to see a doctor

Most often sepsis occurs in people who are hospitalized. People in the intensive care unit are especially vulnerable to developing infections, which can then lead to sepsis. If you get an infection or if you develop signs and symptoms of sepsis after surgery, hospitalization or an infection, seek medical care immediately.



Causes

While any type of infection — bacterial, viral or fungal — can lead to sepsis, the most likely varieties include:

Pneumonia
Abdominal infection
Kidney infection
Bloodstream infection (bacteremia)
The incidence of sepsis appears to be increasing in the United States. The causes of this increase may include:

Aging population. Americans are living longer, which is swelling the ranks of the highest risk age group — people older than 65.
Drug-resistant bacteria. Many types of bacteria can resist the effects of antibiotics that once killed them. These antibiotic-resistant bacteria are often the root cause of the infections that trigger sepsis.
Weakened immune systems. More Americans are living with weakened immune systems, caused by HIV, cancer treatments or transplant drugs.
Risk factors


Sepsis is more common and more dangerous if you:

Are very young or very old
Have a compromised immune system
Are already very sick, often in a hospital's intensive care unit
Have wounds or injuries, such as burns
Have invasive devices, such as intravenous catheters or breathing tubes



Complications

Sepsis ranges from less to more severe. As sepsis worsens, blood flow to vital organs, such as your brain, heart and kidneys, becomes impaired. Sepsis can also cause blood clots to form in your organs and in your arms, legs, fingers and toes — leading to varying degrees of organ failure and tissue death (gangrene).

Most people recover from mild sepsis, but the mortality rate for septic shock is nearly 50 percent. Also, an episode of severe sepsis may place you at higher risk of future infections."



Image Credits: www.sepsis.org

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