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Sepsis: How to Spot the Symptoms


If you have an infection, your body can develop a life-threatening reaction known as sepsis. Sepsis takes more than 258,000 American lives each year according to the Centers for Disease Control. Here’s what you need to know about sepsis and how you can spot the symptoms.

About Sepsis

Sepsis occurs when your immune system responds to an infection in an extreme manner that causes inflammation throughout the body. Something as simple as an untreated cut or as serious as improper healing from a procedure can provoke the response.

Typically, sepsis develops in people who are already sick and have weakened immune systems such as seniors and infants. It progresses rapidly and can cause tissue damage, organ failure, and death if not promptly treated.

Causes of Sepsis

Sepsis can develop in anyone who has almost any infection. The four types of infections most commonly linked with sepsis include:

  • Kidney (especially urinary tract infections)
  • Gut
  • Skin
  • Lungs (especially pneumonia)

If your body already has one of these infections, it can start a chain reaction that leads to sepsis.

Though no one is immune to sepsis, some people have a higher risk, including:

  • Adults over 65
  • Children under 1 year old
  • Those with chronic illness
  • Those with weakened immune systems

Sepsis Symptoms

Sepsis can present a combination of symptoms, including:

  • High breathing rate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fast heart rate
  • Fever and/or shivers
  • Clammy skin
  • Extreme pain or discomfort
  • Low platelet count
  • Discolored patches of skin

If you have an infection and any of the above symptoms, seek medical treatment immediately. The final stage of sepsis, known as septic shock, can be fatal.

Recognizing the signs of sepsis can save your life. If you or someone you know is showing any of the above symptoms, don’t waste another minute. Locate your nearest St. Luke’s Health emergency room now to get quality care when you need it most.

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