World Sepsis Day is celebrated on 13th September, with the aim to raise awareness of sepsis, support prevention and encourage people to recognise the signs. As there still tends to be a misunderstanding around what sepsis is, how it can occur and what it means for your health, World Sepsis Day focuses on educating people across the globe.

What is sepsis?

Sepsis (also sometimes known as blood poisoning) is a potentially life-threatening reaction to an infection, in which your body’s response causes injury to its tissues and organs. Common causes can stem from bacterial, fungal and viral infections, also arising from highly transmissible influenzas and as a result of deterioration within common infections such as urinary tract infections or those affecting open wounds and skin. If sepsis is not detected early on, it can lead to complications such as shock, organ failure and even result in death.

Current awareness around the causes and signs of sepsis means that it is still frequency under-diagnosed during its earliest stages when patients have the best chances of being treated. Additionally, due to misunderstandings of the name ‘blood poisoning’, many people do not realise the potential causes and risks of sepsis.

Spotting sepsis

Sepsis can be hard to spot, as there are lots of possible symptoms and symptoms can also be vague. Sometimes they can be like symptoms of other conditions, including flu or a chest infection.

Call 999 or go to A&E if an adult or older child has any of these symptoms of sepsis:

  • acting confused, slurred speech or not making sense
  • blue, pale or blotchy skin, lips or tongue
  • a rash that does not fade when you roll a glass over it, the same as meningitis
  • difficulty breathing, breathlessness or breathing very fast

Please note they may not have all these symptoms.

Source: NHS

Why is sepsis awareness important?

According to the Global Sepsis Alliance, sepsis has become a global health crisis and affects up to 30 million people a year, with 7-9 million dying as a result. Furthermore, many survivors of sepsis will suffer from consequences of the reaction for the rest of their lives.

Better global awareness of sepsis is integral for widening understanding of the possible causes and symptoms in order to help prevent it where possible and ensure prompt treatment at the earliest possible stages.

Preventing sepsis

There are measures that we can all put in place to ensure prevention of sepsis worldwide, whether patient or healthcare professional. From better awareness in general and maintaining good standards of hand hygiene at all times, to ensuring your vaccinations and those of your family’s are fully up to date, these small but significant things contribute to preventing sepsis.

Page last reviewed on 11/09/2019

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