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Sepsis: What Does the Average American Know about This Condition?
by admin on: July 20th, 2011

According to the Mayo Clinic the condition of sepsis, where the immune system???s response to an infection could cause injury to tissue in other places throughout the body, can be life-threatening. As a patient with sepsis progresses, the patient???s organs are affected, and the patient winds up with ???septic shock,” where blood pressure drops to fatal levels.

Sepsis is the number one killer in intensive care units, killing approximately 25,000 of the nearly two-million Americans it infects each year. Yet, a study that was commissioned by the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research determined in 2010 that Americans know relatively little about sepsis. Early symptoms of sepsis include abnormal body temperature, chills, confusion, low blood pressure, rapid heart rate, and rash.

Those at highest risk for developing sepsis include:

  • the elderly
  • young children
  • those with compromised immune systems
  • extremely unhealthy individuals admitted to hospitals
  • patients with invasive devices (e.g. urinary catheters, breathing tubes, etc.)

Patients are diagnosed as having a severe sepsis when exhibiting one of the following symptoms:

  • areas where the skin appears mottled
  • significantly decreased urine output
  • abrupt change in mental status
  • difficulty breathing
  • abnormal heart function

The best way to treat sepsis is by detecting the condition early and implementing aggressive treatment regimens. There are a number of different medications that are used in treating sepsis, typically classified as antibiotics, vasopressors or ???other??? drugs.

Typical treatments begin with intravenously-administered broad-spectrum antibiotics ??? often before the actual infectious agent is identified. Vasopressors may be administered if the patient???s blood pressure remains low after being administered intravenous fluids. Other medications a patient may receive will vary; some patients may receive low doses of corticosteroids or insulin while other patients may receive drugs for pain or sedatives.

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