World Sepsis Day – spot the signs

Published Wednesday 13 September 2023 at 15:01

Today, Wednesday, September 13, is World Sepsis Day – is a global day of awareness to fight the devastating condition that accounts for 11 million deaths worldwide each year.

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition which occurs when the body’s response to an infection injures its own tissues and organs.

Sepsis always starts with an infection and can be triggered by any infection including chest infections and Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). The earlier that it can be diagnosed and treated, the better the chances of survival and of fewer complications.

It primarily affects very young children and older adults and is more common in people with underlying health conditions, but can sometimes be triggered in those who are otherwise fit and healthy.

According to the UK Sepsis Trust, sepsis affects 245,000 people every year in the UK alone, and 48,000 people die of sepsis-related illnesses. That’s five people every hour. Of those that develop sepsis and survive, around 40% face potentially life-changing challenges with their physical and/or mental health.

Symptoms to be aware of are:

  • a high temperature (fever) or, due to changes in circulation, a low body temperature instead
  • chills and shivering

In some cases, and often very quickly, severe sepsis or septic shock can develop. Symptoms include:

  • feeling dizzy or faint
  • confusion or disorientation
  • slurred speech
  • severe muscle pain
  • severe breathlessness
  • not urinating for a day
  • cold, clammy and pale or mottled skin, or grey (ashen) appearance

Cllr Damian Talbot, Executive Member for Public Health, Prevention and Wellbeing, joined nurses and staff at Royal Blackburn Hospital at the special Health and Wellbeing van, which was there to raise awareness of sepsis and signpost people to help and support.

Cllr Talbot said:

It was a really wonderful experience to visit the hospital and learn about the work being done around raising awareness of sepsis and also the help and support out there for people who have been affected by this devastating condition.

Sepsis is an incredibly serious disease, and by helping people know more about its effects and how to spot it, we can help to beat it and get it treated quickly, which can make all the difference to survival and recovery.”

Abdul Razaq, Blackburn with Darwen’s Director of Public Health, said:

Sepsis is a major cause of death across the world and in the UK, and is often known as the silent killer as it can progress so quickly.

“The six symptoms to be aware of are; slurred speech, extreme shivering or muscle pain, passing no urine in a day severe breathlessness and skin mottled or discoloured.

We want to use World Sepsis Day to remind our residents to look out for these signs and symptoms, and to remind people to take swift action if they or anyone else start to show these signs. Quick action is vital, and can be lifesaving.”

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