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Sepsis kills 44,000 people a year in Britain – what is it and what are the signs?
It’s described as the silent killer. Sepsis – more commonly known as blood poisoning - is often mistaken for everyday illnesses, such as flu or a virus.
But the disease is far more dangerous and can kill quickly if not caught and treated early.
Sepsis is more common than heart attacks and kills more people than bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined. It costs our severely stretched NHS a staggering £2.93billion a year.
Every year, 150,000 people in the UK develop sepsis. Of those, 44,000 die.
A quarter of survivors – another 26,500 people – suffer life-changing disabilities, such as organ failure and amputated limbs.
Yet unlike heart attacks or cancer, awareness of the condition remains alarmingly low. Few of us know the symptoms of sepsis, and doctors regularly struggle to diagnose it early enough.
That is why bereaved families have joined forces with survivors of sepsis, doctors and the Government to launch a new campaign to raise awareness about the deadly disease.
Dr Ron Daniels, chief executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, says: “We could save 12,500 lives a year and improve the quality of life for another 100,000 survivors just by recognising sepsis earlier and delivering good basic care.
“That doesn’t require any costly drugs or investment in more intensive beds, just increasing awareness to make sure cases are caught early.”
Sepsis is caused by the body’s attempts to fight germs that enter it. They could be germs we come into contact with on a daily basis, such as bacteria on our skin or a chest infection.
A cut on the skin normally becomes red and swollen as the body sends more blood to the area to deliver more white blood cells to fight infection and platelets to stem the bleeding.
But if the immune system “overreacts” to an infection, the entire body becomes red and swollen. As too much blood leaks out of vessels, blood pressure plummets and vital organs, such as the heart and kidneys, become starved of blood and oxygen.
While diseases such as cancer are more likely to affect certain age groups or smokers, sepsis is an indiscriminate killer that can strike anyone at any time. It is also unpredictable, and the speed of the disease varies from case to case. Sometimes it takes three to four days to develop, whereas other people become seriously ill in just 12 hours.
Dr Daniels says: “It can affect athletes who have never smoked or drunk and who eat healthily. It can affect innocent babies and it can affect the elderly
“And in typically fit, healthy people in the prime of life it progresses more quickly because their immune system is more active anyway.”
William Meade, from Cornwall, was just one when he died from sepsis in September 2014. His tragic death has inspired local Lottery millionaire Peter Congdon, from Truro, to donate £6,000 to print new information leaflets which will be handed out to pregnant women. They will form a key part of the UK Sepsis Trust’s campaign, Ask Sepsis, to raise awareness.
'I thought I was going to die as I couldn't catch my breath' says sepsis survivor
The campaign, which launches on World Sepsis Day on September 13 and is backed by the Department of Health, will also include posters and symptom cards in GP surgeries and a 90-second video released on social media. A second campaign, Think Sepsis, aims to raise awareness about the symptoms among health professionals to ensure fewer cases are missed.
And healthcare regulator NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) issued new guidelines last month demanding that doctors and nurses treat sepsis as an emergency on the same level of heart attacks to ensure patients get rapid treatment.
Dr Daniels says: “We will only have a reliable system when sepsis is given the same priority as heart attacks, cancer and strokes .
“If you or a loved one has an infection and starts to feel worse, and you know something is just not right, ask a health professional if it could be sepsis.”
Be aware of the warning signs
All ages should watch out for:
Slurred speech or confusion
Extreme shivering or muscle pain
Not passing urine in a day
Skin mottled, discoloured or unusually pale
Symptoms in children can also include:
A raised temperature – over 38C in tiny babies or over 39C in children over three months
Not wanting to play, being hard to wake or confused
Not eating or drinking for more than eight hours when awake, or being unable to keep fluid down
Only having one wee or wet nappy in an eight-hour period
A cough that sounds like a seal barking
The soft spot on a baby’s head bulging
Sunken-looking eyes, cold hands or lips turning blue
'My baby’s heart rate was so high doctors thought the monitor was broken'
Niamh Hodgkins was a happy, active one-year-old who loved chasing her two older sisters around – until she was struck down by sepsis.
At first mum Natalie thought Niamh was just teething, but when she stopped eating she took her to a GP and was told she had a viral infection.
The following day, a second GP diagnosed her with a chest infection and prescribed antibiotics.
Working in a GP surgery, Stella Benson was surrounded by doctors and nurses – but that didn’t help her spot the symptoms.
She felt suddenly tired while walking along the seafront one day in March 2011. The following day she struggled to do her job of practice administrator, suffering with a sore throat and earache. Her condition then deteriorated overnight.
By the next morning her lips were blue and she was in so much pain she couldn’t bear to be touched. She was also suffering from sickness and diarrhoea. Stella says: “I began to feel I was so ill I wasn’t going to make it through. I remember thinking, I’ve got the most appalling flu and it’s going to kill me.”
Stella’s husband Mark, an accountant, called an ambulance after she passed out and she was rushed to the Royal Sussex County Hospital, where she was taken straight to intensive care.
Stella 67, from Brighton, East Sussex, says: “I’m lucky my husband wasn’t at work that day, otherwise I wouldn’t be here now.”
She was put into an induced coma for two-and-a-half weeks and put on dialysis to ease the burden on her ailing kidneys.
Her family feared she wouldn’t survive.
When she eventually woke up, she had gangrene in her hands and legs as blood had stopped flowing to her extremities.
She had to have all her fingers amputated and lost both legs below the knee. She spent three months in hospital, then another three months in an intermediate care centre, learning to live independently.
Stella, who has two daughters and two grandchildren, says: “I’m alive and that’s what matters. I could lie in bed and feel sorry for myself, but I would rather be the badly behaved granny I always wanted to be.
“I knew about sepsis but it is so hard to spot. We are told that you shouldn’t go to the GP and waste their time if you have a sore throat, but that’s exactly how my ordeal started.
“People need to be aware of what symptoms to look out for if they start feeling worse.”
Jan 14th 2016
With regard to biological-contamination and home hygiene it is important that you get your
children into the habit of washing their hands regularly, a particular point to
note, make sure they wash their hands for at least 20 seconds after using the toilet and before they empty the dishwasher, as I'm sure you do.
I personally consider medical biological- contamination as a life-threatening issue as they can bring diseases, infections and many illnesses that can be fatal to human life, prevention can be helped by going through the information that buzcall.com provides.
But don’t worry we will tell you many things you need to know about biological contamination. Firstly, we will give you the definition for “living organisms” which include bacteria, fungi and viruses, or their products that can be hazardous to animal or human health if contacted.
You must prepare. Medical prevention is important and better than cure, below is some advice on what to do and some preventative measures that can make a big difference to you and your family well being and safety, what is money if you are not healthy enough to enjoy life.
Medical biological-contamination is a global problem and knowing the causes and prevention that we provide you will be a big help in keeping you and your family healthy.
Cleanliness and sterilization are very good ways to help prevent medical biological-contamination, by keeping everything clean as much as possible indoor and outdoor you prepare well.
Biological-contamination can give us sickness and health problems, buzcall.com suggests that we should build up a GOOD MEDICAL RESISTANCE so that we can fight these bad bacteria, enzymes, fungi, and viruses.
Taking good vitamins by eating healthy foods and drinking plenty of clean water will help boost our natural resistance.
To those who love eating street foods then we advise you to minimize or more importantly AVOID STREET FOOD as such foods could be contaminated, they are mostly not hygienic in their preparation, and under cooking is another cause of medical health problems.
Clean drinking water is very important and you should choose processed or purified water to avoid ingesting any biological contamination.
The symptoms of biological disease are fever, inflammation and malaise which is a feeling of bodily discomfort and weakness, If you any of these symptoms then we suggest that you to CONSULT A MEDICAL DOCTOR for a check-up and for laboratory tests if necessary.
Since biological contamination brings many different types of diseases, we advise you to prepare and ensure your vaccinations are up to date, this is especially important for your children and any infants.
When you prepare any foods be HYGIENIC, cook thoroughly and for your safety make sure the ingredients of the foods are clean and not gone off.
If you think that buying expired foods makes you save a lot of money then we advise you to think AGAIN of your medical safety; you may think you save money but it will cost you a lot more if you and your family become infected.
If you or your family have any contact with a person who may have a biological disease, we recommend you to stay well away at a distance to avoid any contamination being transmitted to you.
Always sterilize your utensils at home and never share the utensils or glass with anyone who you suspect has a biological disease of any sort.
Most importantly always wash your hands thoroughly after you have been to the toilet for at least 20 seconds is the recommended time.
Fortunately with modern communication systems these dangerous situations can be monitored easily and warnings issued by local government, civil defense, police, local radio and television.Home Page - medical - Biological-Contamination