Ask…. “Could it be Sepsis?”

HSE raises awareness of Sepsis on World Sepsis Day 

Today, (Tuesday, 13th September 2022), the HSE is raising awareness of Sepsis on World Sepsis Day. One in five people who develop sepsis will die, but with early recognition and good treatment, this risk can be reduced. September also marks Sepsis Awareness Month and the HSE is urging everyone to be aware of this highly lethal condition, to be familiar with the signs and symptoms and be ready to ask…. “Could this be Sepsis?”

Recent HSE figures reported in excess of 12,000 people were treated for sepsis in hospital last year with approximately 1 in 5 people dying as a result of developing sepsis. The true figure is likely to be much higher than this. For context, Sepsis kills more people each year than heart attacks, stroke or almost any cancer. Sepsis is a global healthcare problem with an annual death toll in excess of 11 million people.

The illness usually begins as a simple infection. This can start anywhere in or on the body. An abnormal immune response to this infection can then, in certain circumstances, overwhelm the patient and impair or destroy the function of any of the organs in the body.

Recognising when a simple infection has progressed to Sepsis can be very difficult. Although Sepsis can affect anyone, it is more common in the very young, the elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions or those with a weakened immune system.

 According to Dr Michael O’Dwyer, the HSE Sepsis Programme Clinical Lead; “The most effective way to reduce deaths from Sepsis is by prevention. A healthy lifestyle with moderate exercise, good personal hygiene, good sanitation, breastfeeding when possible, avoiding unnecessary antibiotics and being vaccinated for preventable infections all play a role in preventing sepsis.

 “Early recognition and then seeking prompt treatment is key to survival. Recognising Sepsis is notoriously difficult and the condition can progress rapidly over hours or sometimes evolve slowly over days.”

The most commonly reported symptoms include:

Slurred speech, mild agitation, confusion, ‘Not feeling right’

Extreme aches and pains in your joints, temperature of 38֠ and higher

P Have not passed urine in last 12 hours? No urge to pass urine?

Short of Breath. Can you finish a sentence without pause? Are your lips tinged with blue? Is your heart racing very fast? Are you persistently dizzy when you sit or  stand up?

I feel like I’m going to die

Skin appears mottled, blueish in colour or new red rash that is still visible when pressed on by your finger or glass (glass test).

Sepsis in children

Signs and symptoms to look out for include:

●      Abnormally cold to the touch

●      Looks mottled, bluish or pale

●      Breathing very fast

●      Is unusually sleepy and difficult to wake

●      Has a rash that doesn’t not fade when you press it

●      Having fits or convulsions

Also, in children under 5, watch in particular if:

●      Not feeding

●      Vomiting repeatedly

●      Has not had a wet nappy in last 12 hours

Importantly, in Ireland, your chances of developing Sepsis can be reduced by developing some good lifestyle habits. If Sepsis does develop, then early recognition and treatment can drastically improve your chances of making a good recovery. Therefore, knowing the signs and symptoms and asking the question “Could it be Sepsis?” – may save your life.

See and follow #SepsisAwarenessMonth #RecogniseSepsis for more information.