When Your Body’s Immune System Attacks: Identifying Sepsis, a Life-Threatening Condition
Every year, more than 270,000 people die from Sepsis in the United States. That’s more than prostate cancer, breast cancer and AIDS combined. Bryan Health is raising awareness about the life-threatening condition during Sepsis Awareness Month in September.
Sepsis is the body’s overwhelming response to infection. A person’s immune system, which is supposed to fight the infection, goes into overdrive and attacks the body. The disease can affect people of all ages and health levels. However, very young children, older adults and people with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems are at a higher risk.
Despite its prevalence, less than one percent of Americans can correctly identify the most common symptoms of Sepsis. It’s important to pay attention to warning signs, especially after a cut, scrape, or surgery:
- Shivering, fever or very cold
- Extreme pain or general discomfort
- Pale or discolored skin
- Sleepy, difficult to rouse and confused
- Shortness of breath
Sepsis is a medical emergency that requires urgent attention and rapid treatment for survival. In many cases, the condition can be treated and cured. However, long-lasting effects of the disease can be severe, including loss of limbs and organ dysfunction.
Sepsis education and treatment is a priority at Bryan Medical Center. In 2017, all nursing and respiratory therapists attended mandatory training sessions to learn about the life-threatening condition. Additionally, new nurses hired learn about Sepsis in general orientation and attend follow-up classes. Quarterly education sessions are also offered for employees through Bryan’s continuing education unit.
Fortunately, Sepsis can be prevented. By treating an infection seriously, people can decrease the chances of developing the condition. This means:
- Taking prescribed antibiotics through their entire course
- Frequent and thorough hand washing
- Coughing into elbow, not hands
- Getting vaccinated for the seasonal flu
For more information about Sepsis, please visit www.sepsis.org.