September is Sepsis Awareness Month: Be sure to seek medical help immediately if sepsis symptoms occur

In honor of Sepsis Awareness Month, the Sepsis Alliance is encouraging everyone to learn the signs of sepsis. Statistics show that 1.7 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with sepsis each year with 350,000 of those passing away. In the United States, sepsis takes a life every two minutes. As many as 80 percent of sepsis deaths could be prevented with early detection and treatment.

Sepsis happens when the body’s immune system has an extreme response to an infection. The body’s reaction causes damage to its own tissues and organs.  Anyone can develop sepsis, but the following  are at higher risk for sepsis:

• Adults 65 or older
• People with weakened immune systems
• People with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, lung disease, cancer, and kidney disease
• People with recent severe illness or hospitalization, including those with severe COVID-19
• People who survived sepsis
• Children younger than one.

A person with sepsis might have one or more of the following signs or symptoms:

• High heart rate or weak pulse
• Fever, shivering, or feeling very cold
• Confusion or disorientation
• Shortness of breath
• Extreme pain or discomfort
• Clammy or sweaty skin.

“The Sepsis Alliance has a great push during the month of September to educate the public to watch for the possibility of sepsis and seek medical attention right away if any of these symptoms occur,” states Miranda Bieber, RN, Infection Control Coordinator at Veterans Memorial Hospital.  “The quicker the sepsis can be treated, the better the outcome so time is truly of the essence. Call your health care provider right away or go to your nearest Emergency Department for further evaluation by a health care professional.”

The Sepsis Alliance encourages everyone to talk to their healthcare professional about steps they can take to prevent infections that can lead to sepsis, including:

• Take good care of chronic medical conditions
• Get recommended vaccines, since vaccinations prevent some infections
• Practice good hygiene and wash hands frequently
• Keep cuts and wounds clean and covered until healed
• Avoid unclean water or unsanitary toilets.

Sepsis is a medical emergency. Anyone, or their loved one, who has an infection that’s not getting better or is getting worse, should act fast. When it comes to sepsis, it’s about time.  For more information, go to