By Elizabeth Sukys-Rice, LCSW
Sepsis can present as Cognitive Impairment.
Sepsis is a very common challenge with each additional birthday. As we age our organs age too and it is common to get dehydrated faster than in our earlier years. Sepsis can be caused by an untreated urinary infection that can develop without treatment.
What is sepsis?
According to the national institute of General Medical Sciences:
Sepsis is a serious medical condition. It is caused by an overwhelming immune response to infection. The body releases immune chemicals into the blood to combat the infection. Those chemicals trigger widespread inflammation, which leads to blood clots and leaky blood vessels. As a result, blood flow is impaired, and that deprives organs of nutrients and oxygen and leads to organ damage.
In severe cases, one or more organs fail. In the worst cases, blood pressure drops, the heart weakens, and the patient spirals toward septic shock. Once this happens, multiple organs—lungs, kidneys, liver—may quickly fail, and the patient can die.
Sepsis is a major challenge in hospitals, where it’s one of the leading causes of death. It is also the main reason why people are readmitted to the hospital. Sepsis occurs unpredictably and can progress rapidly.
What causes sepsis?
Many types of microbes can cause sepsis, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses. However, bacteria are the most common cause. In many cases, doctors cannot identify the source of infection.
Severe cases of sepsis often result from a body-wide infection that spreads through the bloodstream. Invasive medical procedures such as inserting a tube into a vein can introduce bacteria into the bloodstream and bring on the condition. But sepsis can also come from an infection confined to one part of the body, such as the lungs, urinary tract, skin, or abdomen (including the appendix).
Severe sepsis strikes more than a million Americans every year,1 and 15 to 30 percent of those people die. The number of sepsis cases per year has been on the rise in the United States.2 This is likely due to several factors:
• There is increased awareness and tracking of sepsis.
• People with chronic diseases are living longer, and the average age in the United States is increasing. Sepsis is more common and more dangerous in the elderly and in those with chronic diseases.
• Some infections can no longer be cured with antibiotic drugs. Such antibiotic-resistant infections can lead to sepsis.
• Medical advances have made organ transplant operations more common. People are at higher risk for sepsis if they have had an organ transplant or have undergone any other procedure that requires the use of medications to suppress the immune system.
What are the symptoms of sepsis?
Common symptoms of sepsis are fever, chills, rapid breathing and heart rate, rash, confusion, and disorientation. Many of these symptoms are also common in other conditions, making sepsis difficult to diagnose, especially in its early stages.
Know the signs and speak to your primary care physician as soon as you feel the symptoms
For more information visit https://www.nigms.nih.gov/education/Pages/factsheet_sepsis.aspx