You’ve probably heard of sepsis, but do you know what it is? And no, it’s not some spell out of a Harry Potter novel!

Sepsis is actually a serious medical condition that often goes undetected until it has progressed to dangerous levels. It is an extreme response to an infection, such as a urinary tract or respiratory infection that leads to widespread inflammation, lowered blood pressure, organ failure and even death.

Scary stuff right? What’s even scarier is those with compromised immune systems or chronic health conditions such as diabetes are at even greater risk! So, what should you look out for?

  • Fever and chills
  • Extreme pain or discomfort
  • Clammy skin
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lowered blood pressure and high heart rate

The trouble is, people often mistake these symptoms for a common cold, the stomach bug or other illness that is treated with some rest and healing time. However, especially for those with compromised immune systems, time is of the essence when it comes to sepsis! The faster you can be diagnosed, the faster treatment can begin. And don’t take this condition lightly either; it requires a stay in the hospital for close monitoring and treatment.

The best way to avoid sepsis is to prevent it in the first place, right? How is that possible? Well, here are a few tips:

  • Get vaccinated: Whether it’s the flu, pneumonia or other infection, help prevent them by getting protected.
  • Clean, clean clean: Like the dog dragging mud in after a rain, we humans track all sorts of germs into the house from the store, work and elsewhere. Keep a regular cleaning schedule, especially with sick family members and help prevent the spread of germs, one thing we all would rather not share!
  • Practice good hand hygiene: Along with a clean home, keep your hands clean! Wash before eating, after petting the dogs or any activities that may contribute to the spread of infections.
  • Clean wounds: This is especially important to prevent infections! If you get a cut or scrape, make sure to keep the wound clean and covered if necessary. Watch for signs of infection (redness, swelling, pus) and treat immediately.
  • Timing is everything: If you see signs of shivering, fever or shortness of breath, seek immediate medical care! The sooner you get help the sooner you can be on the road to recovery.

When it comes down to it, sepsis is best prevented than treated. However, should you develop symptoms, know Mahaska Health has processes in place for quick diagnosis and treatment!