What is Sepsis?: Everything you need to know about the deadly condition that tragically killed mum-of-two

November 14, 2017
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Horley mum-of-two Joy Andrews was just 41 when she tragically died late last month (October 27).

Mrs Andrews passed away days after contracting flu-like symptoms , thinking she had a common cold.

It turned out Mrs Andrews actually had sepsis, a rare but serious complication arising from infection.

Without quick treatment, sepsis can lead to serious multiple organ failure – or even death.

But how, if the symptoms are like those of the common cold or flu, do you establish the severity of such an infection?

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In light of Mrs Andrews’ death, Get Surrey has taken a look at what sepsis is and how you can keep yourself and your family safe.

All information in this article is as supplied by the NHS .

    What is sepsis?

    Sepsis is a rare, life-threatening condition that occurs when the body responds to infection in an aggressive way, causing damage to its own tissue and organs.

    According to the NHS, it is a “rare but serious complication of an infection”.

    How can I contract it?

    Any type of infection, whether it be bacterial, viral or fungal, can lead to sepsis.

    It’s more likely you’ll experience sepsis if you have pnuemonia, or an infection of the abdominal area, kidneys or bloodstream.

    Sepsis can arise from any form of infection
    (Image: TMS)

    What are the general symptoms?

    Symptoms broadly include feeling dizzy, changes in mental state, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, slurred speech, muscle pain and breathlessness.

    You may also notice less urine production than normal.

    Symptoms of sepsis in children under five

    Go straight to AE or call 999 if your child has these symptoms:

    • Looking bluish or pale and is lethargic and difficult to wake

    • Feels cold to the touch and is breathing heavily or has a rash that does not fade when pressed, or is having convulsions or fits

    Symptoms of sepsis in older children and adults

    Early symptoms can include:

    • High and low temperatures
    • Fast heartbeat
    • Heavy breathing

    Symptoms in more severe cases:

    Severe sepsis or septic shock, when your blood pressure drops to dangerously low levels, can leave you feeling faint or dizzy.

    You may also notice a change in your mental state and become confused or disorientated.

    Diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and even slurred speech can also occur.

    Severe muscle pain, cold, pale skin and a loss of consciousness may also happen in serious cases.

    A key sign of severe sepsis is less urine production than normal, like not peeing for a whole day or more.

    Who is most at risk?

    The NHS say around 123,000 cases of sepsis are recorded each year in England and around 37,000 people die as a result of it.

    Anyone can develop sepsis after a minor infection or injury.

    The most at risk people include: people in hospital with serious illnesses; the very young and very old; and people with weak immune systems as a result of treatment or a medical condition.

    You are also at high risk if you have just had surgery or have wounds as a result of an accident.

    (Image: Getty Images)

    How can it be treated and what is the process of recovery?

    Antibiotics are used to treat less serious incidents of sepsis. But more severe cases may require the patient to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

    Recovery times from sepsis depend on the severity of the infection and the general well-being of the individual.

    Some people experience long term issues after recovery including tiredness, muscle weakness, swollen limbs, joint pain and breathlessness.

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