Sepsis (Gangrene) : The Silent Killer That Can Be Prevented

World Sepsis Day 

Authored by : Dr. Prakash Doraiswamy 

Sr. Consultant - Anaesthesia & Critical Care, Aster CMI Hospital, Bangalore

World Sepsis Day is annually observed on September 13th to raise awareness of sepsis, a potentially fatal condition caused by the body's natural response to infection causing damage to its own tissues and organs. Every year, millions of people worldwide develop sepsis, and approximately 11 million die as a result of it. In children under the age of five, sepsis is the leading cause of death globally.

Understanding Sepsis

Sepsis is a condition that occurs when there is a dysregulated often exaggerated body’s response to an infection leading to organ dysfunction. This leads to chemicals and proteins that are activated resulting in events that can damage vital organs like the heart, kidneys, and liver. Sepsis can affect anyone, but it is more common in children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems.

Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms

The ability of sepsis to mimic other illnesses is one of its most difficult aspects. A positive outcome requires early detection. Sepsis is characterised by the following signs and symptoms:

●       Hyperthermia or fever: A fever or an unusually low body temperature.

●       Rapid heartbeat: A heart rate that is unusually fast, often accompanied by palpitations.

●       Rapid breathing: Rapid breathing refers to rapid, shallow breathing or shortness of breath.

●       Difficulty concentrating, confusion, or unconsciousness are all symptoms of confusion or altered mental state.

●       Low blood pressure:  A drop in blood pressure that does not respond to fluid replacement is referred to as hypotension.

●       Discomfort that cannot be attributed to a specific injury or illness

●       Skin changes include pale or discoloured skin, as well as a rash resembling small red dots.

Reducing Your Risk

Prevention is always the best medicine, and there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of sepsis:

●       Vaccinations: Stay up to date on your vaccinations because many infections can lead to sepsis.

●       Hand hygiene: Wash your hands frequently to reduce the risk of infection.

●       To prevent infection, clean and cover any wounds as soon as possible.

●       Maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep to keep your immune system strong.

●       Infection awareness is important, especially if you have chronic conditions that weaken your immune system. If you suspect an infection, seek medical attention right away.

Early Intervention Saves Lives

Early detection of sepsis is critical. The sooner sepsis is treated, the better the outcomes. If you suspect that you or someone you know has sepsis, seek medical attention right away. To diagnose sepsis, the doctor will perform a physical examination and will order blood tests and other tests.

Let us commit to raising awareness about this potentially dangerous condition on World Sepsis Day in 2023. Sepsis is a serious condition that, if not recognized and treated promptly, can be fatal. The best way to help fight infections and sepsis is to maintain good hygiene and get immunized against common infections. If you suspect that you or someone you know has infection and sepsis, seek medical attention right away. (The author has his own study and views)