01 Jul 2022

Could it be sepsis? Irish people urged to learn symptoms of condition

Could it be sepsis? Irish people urged to learn symptoms of condition

Could it be sepsis? Irish people urged to learn symptoms of condition

The HSE is urging people to be aware of the signs and symptoms of sepsis. 

The condition, which can be difficult to diagnose, can develop from any infection and can affect anyone. It's most common in young people, the elderly, people with pre-existing medical conditions or people with weakened immune systems. 

The HSE campaign, which was launched in tandem with new clinical guidelines to manage sepsis, encourages people to familiarise themselves with the symptoms and to ask the all-important question, 'Could it be sepsis?' 

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, today endorsed the new NCEC National Clinical Guideline for managing sepsis in adults and maternity patients. 

Speaking about the news, he said, "This will be implemented across the health service to help support safe, high-quality care for patients." 

According to the HSE, the best way to reduce death from sepsis is by prevention. Good sanitation is recommended, as well as personal hygiene, healthy eating, exercising moderately, breastfeeding, avoiding unnecessary antibiotics and vaccination against vaccine-preventable infections. 

The second most effective way is through early recognition and treatment. 

The most commonly reported symptoms include: 

  • Slurred speech, confusion, excessive drowsiness
  • Excessive sleepiness or drowsiness, confusion
  • Pain or discomfort in the muscles or joints, passing very little or no urine
  • Severe breathlessness, a racing heart, shivering, fever, feeling very cold
  • “I feel like I’m going to die”
  • Skin changes pale, cold, discoloured skin or a rash that won’t fade when pressed on

In children, signs of sepsis include abnormally cold and/or mottled (bluish or pale) skin, fast breathing, unusually sleepy and difficult to wake, a rash that doesn't fade when you press it, having fits or convulsions. 

There are several other things to watch out for in children under five, including not feeding, vomiting repeatedly, and no wet nappies in the last twelve hours. 

Nora Cunnigham lost her baby to sepsis shortly before his first birthday. Listen to her story below: 

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