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Harvard Health Blog
Sepsis: When infection overwhelms
- Author: Monique Tello, MD, MPH,
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On behalf of Sepsis Alliance, I’d like to thank you for writing about such an important topic. Awareness is vital if we are to save lives.
This year’s Sepsis Awareness Month has provided many stories of sepsis in the media – all which has only helped. The more we say the word, the more we talk about it, the better. Thank you.
I’m very happy to help spread good information on this topic.
I am writing my dissertation on the effect early detection of sepsis has on mortality rates, I was wondering if you still have the references for this brilliant article? especially CDC analysis?
Of course- and thanks for pointing out that the references were not embedded as links in the article! They usually are. I will tell the editors. Here are the data sources that were used:
2. Cohen et al. Sepsis: A roadmap for future research. Lancet Volume 15, Issue 5, May 2015, Pages 581–614
Are you aware of any studies that have shown the value of pH water
to eliminate staph or specifically MRSA. The water could be 2.5 pH for external elimination or 7-9pH taken internally to enhance anti-oxidation. Thank you.
I am not aware of this. Interesting hypothesis; sounds like pretty acidic and then basic fluid and probably would need to be tested in animals first for safety reasons.
I came by chance to this article. (I subscribe to health Havard Education newsletter) Thank you Dr. Tello. I would not know exactly the cause of death but many of my country folks but they were alive and kicking and within days, they died of Septic issues.
I just posted your article to all my contacts on my Face Book and asked them to do the right thing.. Share it with their love ones.
Thanks so much for sharing this post, the more people are educated, the better!
My Mother died of sepsis. She had no spleen. A silent ovarian tumor burst her intestine. She went in about 30 hours. It was a horrific experience for her, her body and us to witness.
I implore all caregivers to understand the early symptoms of this.
Liz, thank you for sharing your story.
I think the correct way to begin the second sentence of the second paragraph is “Sepsis occurs when….” not “Sepsis is when….”
Absolutely agree, Norman. Admittedly, when I write here, I write with a more accessible style, with the idea of engaging more readers.
I lost my brother to Sepsis earlier this year. He had had a simple TURP operation and was having difficulty urinating and then was getting the symptoms. His fiancé, who had been in the health field for some time, kept urging him to go the hospital, but, partially based on what the clinic told him, he thought it would go away on its own. Finally, she forced him into the car and brought him to the hospital, but it was too late. He was in ICU for three months when he finally gave in. He probably would have still been here if he’d obeyed the early signs.
I am so sorry Donald, that you lost your brother, that is very sad. Yes, a urinary infection can progress to sepsis and it can be very serious. Thank you for sharing your brother’s story.
You may be able to obtain your moms medical records through the public records act. The CDC is a public agency. Good cause would have to be shown by the agency to withhold this information.from you. I would advise you to contact an attorney with experience in this area of the law. Good luck.
I had this from an infection in the port I used for chemotherapy. The chemo weakened my immune system, and the port had staph bacteria on it. I had high fever for five days-was in the hospital the whole time-then was sent to ICU when my blood pressure dropped and sepsis was setting in. I recall calling my husband and telling him to come, that I felt like I was dying. It can turn that quickly! If you have something that weakens your immune system and contract a high fever (mine was 103-104) go to the hospital! I’m grateful to still be here for my husband, three children and friends and family. (And my Stage 3 Lymphoma is in remission!)
Amarie, Thanks for sharing your story, so glad that you made it through, and congratulations on being in remission! Yes, definitely good advice for people with weakened immune systems: a high fever needs to be investigated and treated quickly. Thank you.
I acquired sepsis from a facial lasering procedure (MixTo Microfractional CO2 laser) done by a board-certified plastic surgeon when I was 55 yrs old. I’d had the procedure done on a Friday and was sent to a local hotel to recover. By Monday, I felt ill; Tuesday my skin was flushed lavender; Wed I had uncontrollable diarrhea and a fever of 104F. My husband rushed me to the surgeon’s, and his nurse understood I needed help asap. I had an IV of antibiotics that likely saved my life, but the illness spawned a host of other issues for the next 4 months, including lymphatic issues, peeling hands, feet, full-body rash (yes, even down there!), and finally massive hair loss. I am lucky to be alive today.
Oh wow, that sounds like a very scary and tough experience. Thank you for sharing your story!
I was hospitalized a few years ago for sepsis. I was in my 50s and am diabetic. The surprising thing was how fast it came on. I started the day feeling fine. Mid-afternoon I was out shopping and started feeling a little unwell. I went home and lay down for a nap. I was shivering and couldn’t get warm. An hour or 2 later I woke up and wanted to get up. As soon as I started to stand I knew I was in trouble. I fell – passed out cold. My family rushed to me and I came too although groggy and a bit out of it. I went to the emergency room in an ambulance. Turned out I had an infection in my foot from a crack in my heel that put me in septic shock. This all happened in a matter of a couple of hours. I was in intensive care for 3 days and the hospital for a week. The infectious disease doctor said if I ever had uncontrollable chills like that again to get right to the emergency room.
Hi Maureen, Yes, your case is definitely an example of how fast sepsis can set in. A cut can become infected with a very strong bacteria- sounds like yours was a particularly virulent strain of staph or strep bacteria- and it can happen over a matter of hours. I am so glad that you sought care and made it through to share your story!
My mother acquired sepsis in the hospital. After spending hours in the ICU, multiple mixtures of antibiotics, she developed the symptoms you described low blood pressure, organ failure and died. I received a letter from the hospital stating the CDC was investigating . I would not be told of the results of the investigation. I really miss my mom.
I am soooo sorry for your loss…..my heart goes out to you. I lost my mom too. After reading this article, I plan to get a pneumonia vaccine as I am diabetic and I do control it very well just with diet. I miss my mom, just like you. The CDC never lets you know anything. Wish they did.
Hi Wendy, I am sorry for your loss, that is very difficult.
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