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Sepsis – Do you know the signs and symptoms?

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This month I wanted to do my regular recap on Sepsis to make sure you have it at the front of your mind should your loved ones around you start showing signs which need immediate support. Sepsis can affect anyone so it is really important we all understand the signs and symptoms so we can react quickly if needed.

According to the UK Sepsis Trust, every three seconds, someone in the world dies of sepsis. In the UK there are at least 245,000 cases of Sepsis a year in the UK and as many as 48,000 people a year losing their lives in sepsis related illness.  

So, what is Sepsis?

Sepsis is a severe and life-threatening immune system reaction to an infection. It happens when your body overreacts to a normal virus or infection and starts to damage your own body’s tissues and organs.

It is not something you catch from someone else; it is a body reaction. Sometimes you may hear it being called septicaemia or blood poisoning.

If it isn’t treated immediately, Sepsis can cause organ failure and death. Yet with early diagnosis, it can be treated with antibiotics.

What are the signs and symptoms of Sepsis?

Sepsis can initially look like flu, gastroenteritis or a chest infection. There is no one sign, and symptoms can be different in adults and children.

For adults use the Sepsis acronym to check symptoms:

  • S – Slurred speech or confusion
  • E – Extreme shivering or muscle pain
  • P – Passing no urine (in a day)
  • S – Severe breathlessness
  • I – It feels like you’re going to die
  • S – Skin mottled or discoloured

If your baby or child is unwell with either a fever or a very low temperature (or has had a fever in the last 24 hours), call 999 and just ask: Could it be Sepsis?, if they have any of the following symptoms:

  • Is breathing very fast
  • Has a ‘fit’ or convulsion
  • Looks mottled, bluish, or pale
  • Has a rash that does not fade when you press it (This is one of the last symptoms, don’t wait for this)
  • Is very lethargic or difficult to wake
  • Feels abnormally cold to touch

A child under 5 may have Sepsis if he or she:

  • Is not feeding
  • Is vomiting repeatedly
  • Has not passed urine for 12 hours

Who is most likely to get it Sepsis?

The six groups of people most likely to get Sepsis are:

  1. Babies under one (1), particularly if they were born premature or their mother had an infection while pregnant
  2. Adults over the age of 75
  3. People with diabetes
  4. People with a weakened immune system i.e. someone who has been through chemotherapy, or had an organ transplant
  5. People who have just been through surgery or had a serious illness
  6. Women who have given birth, had a miscarriage or had an abortion

What do I do if I think someone have Sepsis?

Remember not all the symptoms will show so if you suspect Sepsis because of any of the symptoms call 999 or go quickly to your local A&E.

Sepsis moves fast so trust your gut and go see a doctor. They would rather see you and say it is not Sepsis than it be too late to help you.

Want to know more about Sepsis?

If you would like to see some real-life accounts of Sepsis then take a look at the following link:

If you would like to learn more about other areas of first aid, please get in touch to join one of my regular bookable courses or to book your own private course. 

On Facebook and Instagram for regular hints and tips on all things first aid. Image: UK Sepsis Trust

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