MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – September is Sepsis awareness month. To help raise awareness for the condition and prevent deaths, we spoke with Tara Graham, R.N., who is the Infection Prevention Specialist at Aspirus Ironwood

Graham said Sepsis is the body’s extreme response to infection. It happens when an infection you already have, triggers a chain reaction throughout the body. Without timely treatment, Sepsis can rapidly lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and even death.

Anyone can get an infection and almost any infection can lead to Sepsis. People with chronic conditions, cancer, and weakened immune systems are more likely to develop Sepsis. Those older than 65 or under 1-year-old are also more prone to Sepsis.

Early Signs of Sepsis:

  • Fever greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Feeling cold and a temperature of less than 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Heart rate greater than 90 beats per minute
  • Respiratory rate greater than 20 respirations per minute
  • Change in mental status such as confusion, disorientation

Severe Signs of Sepsis:

  • Shivering
  • Paleness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty waking up
  • Extreme pain

Graham said the number one way to prevent Sepsis is to prevent infections.

“We can do that by taking care of your chronic conditions, getting recommended vaccines as some vaccines prevent infections. They do not cure Sepsis. Also, if you’ve had a recent surgery, you want to make sure to keep the incision site clean because you are more at risk for Sepsis.”

If you do develop symptoms, act fast as that can lead to better outcomes from treatment.

“If the patient is in the ER, they’ll trigger some warning signs and we’ll start antibiotics, and draw layups and start IV fluids right away because their blood pressure can deteriorate quite quickly. Then you’re starting to go into more severe Sepsis, which can lead to septic shock where your organs start to fail.”

1.7 million people in the U.S. develop Sepsis every year. More people with chronic conditions are living longer, and medical professionals have seen an increase in resistance to antibiotics.