TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said more than 1.5 million people get sepsis every year in the US and at least 250,000 American die from it each year.
"Basically (it's) an overwhelming response in the body to an infection. Everybody has had an infection at one point time and even a little infection can cause sepsis," said Mindi Huckabee, a performance improvement specialist with St. Luke's. "What sepsis does is once it infects the body, your organs can start shutting down, you can have to go onto a breathing machine. Some people actually die from it. It’s very, very serious and life threatening."
Sepsis survivor Laurie Kinney said the symptoms are a lot like the flu.
"I ended up in septic shock, where the blood pressure goes really, really low, you feel nauseous and your whole body aches. The ER doctor thought it was the flu until they took a blood culture and that’s how they determined sepsis and I don’t think a lot of people are aware of it," Kinney said.
She said she got sepsis after an endoscopy, a procedure that examines a person's digestive tract.
"I've been having issues with my stomach, acid reflex kind of stuff and I accidentally inhaled some of the acid from my stomach, which caused a little bit of pneumonia in my lungs and then boom, septic," she explained. "It was so fast and so surreal, I still can’t believe it."
When thinking of the symptoms, Huckabee said to just think about the word sepsis.
"Shivering or fever... Extreme pain or discomfort. Pale or discolored skin, sleepiness or confusion," she continued. "If you feel like you’re going to die or if you’re short of breath."
If someone thinks they may have any of these symptoms or a combination of them, she urges going to the doctor or ER immediately.
"It’s a three hours within recognition of sepsis that we have to initiate these treatment options to improve their risk," she said. "Lessen their risk of dying."
While this week is Sepsis Survivor Week, Huckabee said 20 percent of those patients who do get sepsis can get readmitted within 30 days or from some other disease.
"Sepsis patients have a 42 percent increase of suicide 'cause of the aftereffects," she said. "A lot of patients experience insomnia after sepsis that doesn’t go away. They experience other diseases to their organs, kidney failure, lung disease that they didn’t have previously and now sepsis has infected their body and they have long-term effects from that and so it increases the suicide rate for sepsis patients."
"Don’t be a tough guy," Kinney said. "I used to be one of those guys. Oh it’s OK it’s just the flu. You need to go get checked. Even if you think it’s the flu, go get checked. It’s a matter of life or death."