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World Sepsis Day: What is sepsis and what are the symptoms?

Sepsis accounts for at least 8 million deaths worldwide annually. Credit: PA

Today marks World Sepsis Day.

World Sepsis Day is held on September 13th every year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against sepsis.

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Sepsis accounts for at least 8 million deaths worldwide annually.

Depending on country and education, sepsis is known only to 7 to 50% of people.

Likewise, it is poorly known that sepsis can be prevented by vaccination and clean care and that early recognition and treatment reduces sepsis mortality by 50%.

Health professionals say this lack of knowledge makes sepsis the number one preventable cause of death worldwide.

What is Sepsis?

Sepsis is a common and potentially life-threatening condition triggered by an infection.

A sepsis infection can start anywhere in the body and can occur after chest or water infections, abdomen problems - such as burst ulcers - or even from cuts and bites.

It is caused by the way the body responds to germs, such as bacteria. The body’s response to an infection may injure its own tissues and organs.

If untreated, sepsis can lead to shock, multiple organ failure and death.

Credit: PA

How do I spot Sepsis?

Sepsis could occur as the result of any infection. There is no one sign for it.

It is a serious condition that can initially look like flu, gastroenteritis or a chest infection.

People should seek medical help urgently if they develop any or one of the following:

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

Sepsis in children under five:

If your child is unwell with either a fever or very low temperature, or has had a fever in the last 24 hours, just ask: could it be Sepsis?

Symptoms can include:

  • 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
  • Is very lethargic or difficult to wake
  • Feels abnormally cold to touch

Kay Bull, Lead Nurse at the Infection Control Department in Guernsey, is trying to raise awareness locally and says it is vital not to delay in seeking medical attention.

For more help and advice on the condition visit The Sepsis Trust.