What causes up to 48,000 deaths a year in the UK, a 20% mortality rate, and affects 25,000 children each year?
Former delivery driver Dave Crum, 41, is well aware of the damage it can cause.
He developed the disease after straining his groin playing football in January 2020 and ended up in distress in the accident and emergency department.
Dave, from Blackpool, said: “An emergency doctor saw me come out of my cubicle, rushed me to the bed, told my wife I was dying and put me into an induced coma for the operation. I was didn’t know I was struggling. necrotizing fasciitis.”
Dave was saved seven times – on his 40th birthday, his family “had to make the painful decision to amputate my left leg at the hip.”
Sepsis affects 245,000 people in the UK each year, 80,000 of whom suffer life-changing effects like Dave.
Dr Ron Daniels, Founder and Chief Executive of Sepsis Trust (sepsistrust.org), Consultant Intensive Care at Birmingham University Hospitals, said: “Research shows that the number of people being diagnosed is increasing, but in reality we are only getting better in terms of finding it. .
‘Pain is 10 out of 50’
“That said, as we become a longer-living population, older generations have more invasive treatments, and antibiotic resistance increases, we may see more people diagnosed.”
Dave woke up in pain and first went to his local drop-in centre, where he took the codamal pain medication, and was sent home. But that night, he couldn’t sleep.
“From one to ten, ten is the most painful, it feels like I’m 50,” she said.
signs to check at home
In medicine, we use various clinical scales to assess someone’s sepsis.
We focus on six metrics: respiratory rate, heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels, consciousness, and body temperature. At home, however, you won’t have the kit. Instead, check for these signs:
breathing: How many breaths do you take in a minute? If there are more than 20 or less than 9, this is not normal.
Heart rate: How many jumps per minute? If it is more than 100 or less than 40, this is not normal.
awareness: Are they alert or lethargic or confused? Inertia is a cause for concern.
temperature: This is cause for concern if their temperature is below 35 degrees Celsius or above 38.5 degrees Celsius.
Cool/Wet Circumstances: Cold hands and feet. This is an additional worrying sign because it means that the body is starting to shut down and divert blood to the internal organs. This, combined with any of the other signs above, requires immediate medical attention.
After seven hours in the emergency room, he was unable to pass water and was feeling worse and worse.
He added: “Tests showed my kidneys were failing, my liver was damaged and I had seven surgeries over the next two weeks to relieve the stress of a leg infection.
“Eventually I woke up with severe trauma and several broken ribs from the cardiac arrest, but I was still alive.”
Three months later, he was finally released from the hospital. He said: “I have a prosthetic leg now but I’m not fully recovered. What happened to me will affect the rest of my life.
“Every day I don’t want to take codamol and go home. Maybe things would have been different if I had said something.”
What should I do?
If you think someone has sepsis, make sure you seek emergency medical advice or go straight to hospital.
Not everyone will have typical symptoms. People who are very old, very young and have immune system problems may have unusual features that make diagnosis more difficult.
These people are most likely to develop sepsis, so be very careful.
Dr Ron added: “Sepsis is more common in adults than in children. However, if you are a parent who suspects sepsis or your child is ill, trust your gut.
“You know your child better than anyone with a medical degree, so be prepared to protect them and don’t leave your GP’s operating room or emergency room if you’re not happy.”
need to know
On World Sepsis Day, GP Dr Zoe Watson, founder of Wellgood Wellbeing, reveals everything you need to know about sepsis…
What is sepsis? Sometimes called sepsis or blood poisoning, sepsis is not a disease itself, but rather the body’s response to a serious pre-existing infection.
For example, you may develop sepsis from pneumonia, an infected insect bite, or a viral infection such as the herpes virus. Infections that cause sepsis are most commonly found in the lungs, urinary tract, skin, or gastrointestinal tract.
Why does it happen? Sepsis occurs when an infection you’ve already contracted starts a chain reaction throughout your body, releasing a flood of inflammatory chemicals to help fight the infection.
This also happens in normal infections, but in sepsis, the immune system basically overreacts and causes the release of too many markers of inflammation.
These chemicals begin to interfere with factors such as blood clotting and blood pressure, eventually causing damage to the body’s internal organs.
If left untreated, sepsis can eventually progress to septic shock – the final stage of sepsis – where the body’s organs begin to shut down. If left untreated, sepsis can quickly lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death.
However, if it is caught early and the person starts receiving the right treatment (which varies depending on the type of microbes in the infection that caused sepsis), they can recover well.
Worryingly, the symptoms of sepsis are often very vague. It feels like a bad flu.
You may have: lethargy, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, chills, muscle aches.
All these symptoms are common in many viral diseases, so it is essential to establish objective evidence of sepsis with a physical examination and a good, clear medical history that outlines the timeline of the disease.
Was there any evidence of infection in the days before these symptoms? The cut on the hand looks angry and red?
Increased pain and frequency when urinating, could this indicate a urine infection?
Severe cough and breathing pain, could it be pneumonia?
An infection that’s been treated with antibiotics but you’re still very sick? All of these conditions should cause your “sepsis radar” to respond and seek further medical evaluation for you.