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Sepsis is Not the Flu!

Lisa Brandt - January 29, 2018 12:21 PM

Once you become familiar with the symptoms of sepsis, perhaps your memory will take you back to an incident when sepsis was the cause of someone’s death, only you didn’t know it. In my case it was the wife of a friend of a friend who got a little cut on her hand and a few days later, she was dead.  No one said the word sepsis. Maybe their doctor didn’t say it to them. It would have been called “complications” or an “untreatable infection”.  There are many euphemisms but we really need to hear and say the word in order to educate ourselves and each other.
How could someone die from a run-of-the-mill cut? Thankfully, most of the time, they don’t. And there are many, many root causes of sepsis which is the immune system’s overreaction to an infection. Sepsis is often mistaken for the flu, if not by the patient, then by their health care provider because it sounds like the flu. This is why you have to know the word so you can say it if you think it’s a possibility.

Sepsis kills more people in the US than heart attacks do and it’s the number one killer of children around the world. Many of those who do survive endure lifelong complications such as organ failure, amputations and cognitive impairment.  Organizations such as Sepsis Alliance and World Sepsis Day offer tremendous up-to-date information and resources for health care workers and the public at large.

September 13 is World Sepsis Day. Please make it your mission to ask a loved one or a colleague if they’ve heard of sepsis. Then ask them if they know what it is. If they don’t, tell them and ask them to do the same with someone else. We simply have to do a better job of spreading the word about sepsis. Our lives may depend on it.

Lisa Brandt is a broadcaster and author of “How I Almost Died and You Don't Have To: My Sepsis Story” Since sepsis almost took her life in 2011, she made it her mission to educate as many people about it as possible. She also shares stories about sepsis survival and research on her Facebook page, under the title of the book.

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