The deaths from sepsis and septic shock are on the rise. Many symptoms of sepsis mimic the flu and other illnesses. The actual cause of infection and sometimes death is found too late. Sepsis can spread quickly through the bodies of otherwise healthy people, killing them within hours of feeling sick.
But what is sepsis? When there’s an infection, (bacterial, fungal or viral), inside your body, the immune system goes into overdrive to fight it. the chemicals released during this process can cause the body to have inflammatory responses.
Some symptoms of sepsis include: “shivering, a fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit, extreme pain, sleepiness, confusion, shortness of breath or pale and discolored skin.”
Next comes severe sepsis, where organ failure can occur. Finally, comes septic shock, which is a medical emergency.
Who are the most vulnerable to sepsis? Those with weakened immune systems. The very young and very old or those with chronic diseases can contract sepsis. However, the Sepsis Alliance says this medical problem is, “an equal-opportunity killer impacting people of all ages and levels of health.”
In 2014, deaths from sepsis were on the rise. According to doctors, this is due to our bodies becoming resistant to antibiotics.
The vulnerable and chronically ill aren’t the only ones who can catch sepsis. 21-year-old Kyler Baughman lived a healthy life. The bodybuilder was training to become a personal trainer when sepsis took his life. He caught a fever before the Christmas holiday. His symptoms worsened, and he went to the emergency room.
He was airlifted to another hospital. Medical staff realized they were dealing with something quite serious. Sadly, the young man who took impeccable care of himself died just one day later. The cause of his death? Septic shock brought on by influenza.
Sepsis can also be caused by minor, insignificant injuries. The Stauntons lost their son, Rory after the active, healthy boy got a small cut on his arm in gym class. He died just four days later from sepsis; the wound became infected.
In 2014, a 3-year-old little girl named Pippa died of sepsis. This was after she was incorrectly diagnosed with pneumonia. She died hours later.
“Pippa went in at 7 p.m., and she died by 4 a.m. That’s how quickly it takes a life,” said her heartbroken father, Peter.
Another life cruelly snuffed out by sepsis was 12-year-old, Alyssa Alcaraz. She was the love and light of her family. The bubbly girl who loved singing and cheerleading felt fine during a holiday concert at her school. Days later, she was dead.
Alyssa’s mother took her to the hospital where she was diagnosed with the flu. Doctors sent mother and daughter home with instructions to get plenty of rest, take ibuprofen, and advice to drink liquids. Just three short days later, the teen was dead. Her cause of death wasn’t the flu, but sepsis and cardiac arrest.
If sepsis is so deadly and killing so many, how can we prevent it in the first place? How can we ensure this fatal infection doesn’t take more lives? It already claims 26 million worldwide according to the Sepsis Alliance; the majority of those killed are children.
Practicing good hygiene. Washing your hands and cleaning surfaces; cleaning cuts, regardless how tiny is crucial as well. It is also essential to keep all vaccinations current.
Spread awareness about sepsis; educate friends, family and medical staff about its symptoms and how it can disguise itself as other illnesses.
Keeping these facts in mind could help save a life; maybe yours. Question your doctor and other medical staff if you feel someone has received a wrong diagnosis. Share what you’ve learned and let them know of your concerns.