Staff from across Hywel Dda University Health Board are once again joining the global effort to raise awareness of a life-threatening illness on World Sepsis Day, Thursday 13 September 2018.
Sepsis is a deadly reaction to infection in any part of the body. The most common sites of infection leading to sepsis are the lungs, urinary tract, tummy (abdomen) and pelvis.
It remains the number one preventable cause of death in hospital, although 70% of sepsis starts in the community.
It is estimated to be responsible for 44,000 deaths annually in the UK and causes more deaths than breast, bowel and prostate cancer combined.
This equates to approximately 2,200 people in Wales each year which represents approximately 13% of all hospital deaths.
Sepsis also carries a terrible cost not only in the number of deaths but in the after effects that survivors may have to carry with them for the rest of their lives.
Sepsis survivors often have to cope with physical and physiological challenges that mean that they may have to stop working and radically alter their lifestyles.
Sepsis can develop very quickly, recognising and getting treatment early is vital. It affects all age groups irrespective of lifestyle choices, with vulnerable groups such as new mothers, new born babies, small children and the elderly the most at risk, as well as those with chronic disease and weakened immune systems. In the early stages sepsis is often difficult to distinguish from flu.
This is why vaccination is such a high priority. No other medical intervention has done more to save lives and improve quality of life. We will soon have an improved pneumococcal vaccine that offers protection against more strains of the disease, and there’s promising work on longer-lasting vaccines against flu.
Anyone who has, or has recently had a fever or a very low temperature and who develops any of the following symptoms, should seek medical advice without delay:
Slurred speech, or confusion
- Extreme shivering or muscle pain
- Passing no urine (in 18 hours or a day)
- Severe breathlessness
- Feelings of severe discomfort
- Skin that is mottled, bluish or very pale
However, the good news is that treatment for sepsis is straightforward and early recognition can save lives.
Dr Phil Kloer, Medical Director at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “If sepsis isn’t recognised or treated promptly, it can be fatal. Untreated, sepsis usually leads to multiple organ failure. However, the worst effects of sepsis can be countered with simple treatments, provided it is identified quickly. The sooner treatment is started the lower the risk of death and the harmful effects of sepsis can be reduced.”
World Sepsis Day is being marked by healthcare organisations around the world to increase awareness of sepsis with staff and the public. For further information, visit www.world-sepsis-day.org
- Staff from the health board will be on hand in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire to offer advice and information about sepsis.