The silent threat of sepsis
What you should know & how to stay prepared
Never heard of Sepsis? You’re not alone.
According to the CDC, fewer than half of Americans have heard of sepsis, despite it affecting over a million Americans each year and being the leading cause of death in US hospitals. It is an even harsher reality that often lurks in the shadows for pediatric cancer. Sepsis and septic shock are one of the most common causes of critical illness in children with cancer, with a devastating mortality rate of over 40%. September is National Sepsis Awareness Month, so we’re helping to raise awareness of this deadly disease, and arming people with education on the signs, and how to prevent it.
What is Sepsis?
Sepsis is a serious illness that can develop when the body has an extreme reaction to an infection. A common misconception is that sepsis may also be referred to as “blood poisoning”, although these two terms should not be used interchangeably.
The immune system releases chemicals into the blood to fight infections, but sometimes those chemicals can cause major inflammation, which can lead to blood clots and organ damage. In severe cases, sepsis can weaken the heart, shut down other organs and cause death.
Who is at risk?
Sepsis can happen to anyone, but older people, young children, and those with weakened immune systems are more likely to be affected since their bodies have to work harder to fight off infections. Cancer and treatments like chemotherapy can also put someone at higher risk of developing an infection and sepsis.
Take the TIME to know the signs
Sepsis Alliance created a clever tool to help identify symptoms so you can quickly intervene. Time is of the essence when it comes to treating sepsis. Each hour that is delayed, the risk of mortality increases. Even after surviving sepsis, the longer it is in the body can cause long-term organ damage. The good news? Knowing these signs can have a huge impact and help save lives.
If you or someone you know is showing any of these signs, seek medical care IMMEDIATELY, and tell the healthcare professional that you are concerned about sepsis.
- TEMPERATURE – higher or lower than normal
- INFECTION – may have signs and symptoms of infection
- MENTAL DECLINE – confused, sleepy, difficult to rouse
- EXTREMELY ILL – severe pain, discomfort, shortness of breath
Prevention is key
Prevention is always better than cure. Taking actionable steps to help prevent infection can help lower the risk of sepsis.
- Practice good hygiene, like washing hands often and brushing your teeth
- Keep cuts clean and covered
- Talk to your doctor about vaccines
The battle against sepsis in pediatric cancer patients requires continued research, advocacy, and awareness. Together, we can make a difference to ensure that every child fighting cancer is given the best chance at a healthy future.
Here to Serve is here for you
As parents, caregivers, and advocates, it’s our duty to take proactive steps to protect our children. But there is so much to consider when supporting children and families dealing with pediatric cancer, which can feel extremely overwhelming. Here to Serve is here to help. We’re here to ease the burden of those families dealing with this horrible disease. Check out the wide range of our services, and if you know someone on their cancer journey, get help today!
Author: Emily Rogalin
Emily Rogalin is a copywriter in healthcare advertising in NYC. Having lost multiple members in her family to cancer, she is honored to help bring support to families on this difficult journey.
Information on the Here to Serve website is for educational and informational purposes only. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical guidance.