Spotting the signs of sepsis

Septicemia – or blood poisoning – is one of the leading causes of death in the UK, killing 44,000 people per year, or more than ten times the number of people who die in vehicle accidents. Strangely, though, only about 44 per cent of people even know what it is putting us all at risk, should we find ourselves in the throes of the condition at some point in our lives.

What is sepsis?

Sepsis is a condition where the body’s immune system goes into overdrive in response to a perceived threat. Not only does it bear down on any pathogens that might be floating around in the blood, but also the body’s healthy organs and tissues. In extreme cases, it can lead to organ failure and death. It’s vital, therefore, that people receive first aid training to deal with it.

What Are The Signs Of Sepsis?

The signs of sepsis differ between children and adults.

Signs In Children

  • Skin is abnormally cold to the touch
  • The skin looks mottled, pale or blue
  • The child is experiencing convulsions and fits
  • The doesn’t want to eat
  • There’s a rash on the child’s skin that doesn’t fade when you press it
  • The child has difficulty staying awake

Signs In Adults (And Older Children)

The early signs of sepsis include: 

  • Chills and shivering
  • Hyperventilation (rapid, short breaths)
  • An elevated heart rate
  • A fever or abnormally low body temperature

More severe symptoms include:

  • A severe lack of breath
  • Diarrhoea
  • Feeling faint or feeling dizzy
  • Apparent confusion or inability to perceive surroundings
  • Slurring of speed
  • Unconsciousness
  • Severe muscular pain

If you notice any of these severe signs in either adults or children, then call an ambulance immediate or travel to your nearest accident and emergency.

Septic Shock

One of the reasons that people learn first aid training in the West Midlands is because of the threat of septic shock.

Septic shock occurs when a person has severe sepsis symptoms in combination with low blood pressure. Low blood pressure may cause them to lose consciousness.

Sepsis is a life-threatening situation, equally as dangerous as heart attack or stroke. Data from the Mayo Clinic suggest that septic shock has a fifty per cent mortality rate, meaning that it’s vital first aiders know what to do from the outset.

Even if the patient survives, sepsis can cause additional complications. Sepsis causes small blood clots to form throughout the body that can then travel to vital organs. If they block the blood supply to these organs, it can often be fatal.

Prolonged blockages cut off tissues from the blood supply and lead to tissue death conditions, like gangrene.

Who Is At Risk Of Sepsis?

Anyone can get sepsis in response to infections like pneumonia, bloodstream infections, kidney infections and infections in the abdomen.

The most at-risk groups are young children, the elderly, those in intensive care units, and people with weakened immune systems, including AIDS patients.

First aid training in Herefordshire provides the skills that people need to prevent sepsis from taking hold and prematurely ending someone’s life.

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