Beware of Sepsis

 In Awareness Campaigns, NICE guidelines, Pharmacy Information

Recently Sepsis has been gaining a lot of attention in the media. With a few high-profile cases, it has led to a public outcry to educate people on the symptoms, and the importance of getting treated as soon as possible.

What is Sepsis?

Sepsis is the body’s reaction to germs entering the body through a cut or wound to the skin. The reaction aims to get rid of the infection but in the process damages its own tissues and organs. We come into contact with bacteria on a daily basis and sepsis is caused by an abnormal reaction to these germs. Without quick treatment, the condition can lead to multiple organ failure and death. Symptoms can differ in children and adults and everyone should be aware of them. The NHS state that you should look out for the following symptoms in children:

  • Change in temperature (over 38C in babies under three months, 39C in babies aged three to six months. Or below 36C which you should check 3 times in a 10 minute period)
  • Change in breathing (hard to breathe, making grunting noises, struggles to speak more than a few words at a time or obvious pauses in breathe)
  • Not going to the toilet for over 12 hours
  • Change in eating and drinking habits (baby under one month with no interest in feeding, not drinking for more than 8 hours when awake and green, black or bloody vomit)
  • Change in activity or body (bulging soft spot on babies head, sunken eyes, no interest in anything, floppiness, weak or continually crying, older child who’s confused, non-responsive and has a stiff neck)

In adults and older children the NHS state that you should look out for early indicators which include a change in body temperature (high or low), chills and shivering, a fast heartbeat and fast breathing. For more information on the condition itself, please visit the NHS website.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) advice on Sepsis

NICE suggest someone who could potentially have sepsis should be checked over extremely carefully, and if they are deemed high risk, then they should be seen within an hour. This underlines the danger of the condition and how seriously health authorities are taking it.

NICE released their guideline on the recognition, diagnosis and early management of Sepsis in July 2016 and offered recommendations on how to tackle these areas. The areas this guideline offers recommendations on include:

  • Identifying people with the suspected condition
  • Risk factors for the condition
  • Face-to-face assessment of people with the suspected condition
  • Managing the suspected condition outside acute hospital settings
  • Managing and treating the suspected condition in acute hospital settings
  • Finding the source of infection in people with the suspected condition
  • Training and education

The full guideline can be found on the NICE website.

It is imperative that awareness of this condition is put out into the public, and that people are educated on the symptoms so they can get help quickly. Sepsis has been in the mainstream media a lot recently and that can only be a good a thing because more and more people are learning to act fast in a bid to defeat sepsis.

Sepsis Facts

  • Each year in the UK there are 150,000 cases, resulting in 44,000 deaths
  • It is one of the biggest direct causes of death in pregnancy in the UK
  • The UK Sepsis Trust public awareness poll in 2014 found that 40% of the public had heard the word ‘sepsis’ but of those, only 40% knew it was a medical emergency



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