What is sepsis?
Sepsis is the body’s response to an infection. It typically occurs when germs from the infection get into the bloodstream and spread throughout the body. The infection can be anywhere on the body, and can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and even death. While anyone can develop sepsis, women suffering from open wounds after having surgeries such as C-sections and hysterectomies are particularly at risk. Because of their weakened immune systems, cancer survivors are also at risk.
What are the symptoms of sepsis?
- Sore throat
- Short of breath
- Confusion or disorientation
- High heart rate
- Clammy, sweaty skin.
If you experience one or more of these symptoms, treat it as a medical emergency and seek medical attention immediately.
- Get vaccinated against any infection that could lead to sepsis (e.g., flu, pneumococcal and tetanus). Consult your doctor for further information.
- Clean your scrapes and wounds, and practice good hygiene (i.e. washing hands, bathing regularly, etc.)
- If you have had any recent surgery such as a C-section or a hysterectomy, and have an open wound, do not partake in post-flood cleanup.
Cancer and sepsis
For a person with cancer, any infection can lead to sepsis. Chemotherapy works by killing the fastest-growing cells in your body. This means while chemo is killing your cancer cells, it is also killing your white blood cells, and leaving you at risk for sepsis. Avoid being exposed to bacteria-infested flood waters, and do not hesitate to say no to assisting in post-flood clean up.
For more information regarding sepsis, visit www.cdc.gov/sepsis