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KU-EHS January Safety Tip: Stay Healthy. Protect Yourself From Sepsis.

Monday, January 1, 2018

In September, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched Get Ahead of Sepsis. It is an educational initiative to protect Americans from the devastating effects of sepsis. This initiative emphasizes the importance of early recognition and timely treatment of sepsis, as well as the importance of preventing infections that could lead to sepsis.

What is Sepsis?

Sepsis is the body’s extreme response to an infection. It is life-threatening, and without timely treatment, sepsis can rapidly cause tissue damage, organ failure, and death. Sepsis happens when an infection you already have—in your skin, lungs, urinary tract or somewhere else—
triggers a chain reaction throughout your body.

Sepsis is the body’s extreme response to an infection. It is life-threatening, and without timely treatment, sepsis can rapidly lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death. Each year in the U.S., more than 1.5 million people develop sepsis, and at least 250,000 Americans die as a result.

Am I at risk?

Anyone can get an infection, and almost any infection can lead to sepsis. People with chronic conditions such as diabetes, lung disease, cancer, and kidney disease, are at higher risk of developing infections that can lead to sepsis. Sepsis also more commonly occurs in:

  • Adults 65 or older
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • Children younger than one

The most frequently identified germs that cause infections that can develop into sepsis include Staphylococcus aureus (staph), Escherichia coli (E. coli), and some types of Streptococcus (strep).

How can I get ahead of Sepsis?

  1. Talk to your doctor or nurse about steps you can take to prevent infections. Some steps include taking good care of chronic conditions and getting recommended vaccines.
  2. Practice good hygiene, such as handwashing, and keeping cuts clean until healed.
  3. Know the symptoms of sepsis.
  4. ACT FAST. Get medical care IMMEDIATELY if you suspect sepsis or have an infection that’s not getting better or is getting worse.

What are the symptoms?

There is no single symptom of sepsis. Symptoms of sepsis can include a combination of any of the following:

  • confusion or disorientation,
  • shortness of breath,
  • high heart rate,
  • fever, or shivering, or feeling very cold,
  • extreme pain or discomfort, and
  • clammy or sweaty skin.

For more information about Get Ahead of Sepsis and to access materials, visit: www.cdc.gov/sepsis.

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