Sepsis is a serious medical condition which is characterized by inflammation that is spread throughout the entire body. Sepsis happens as a result of a severe infection. Chemicals which are released by the body to fight an infection may trigger inflammation to take place throughout the entire body. As a result of this inflammation, many body systems may become damaged or even shut down entirely.
Sepsis is most common in elderly individuals. Additionally, the elderly are the demographic most likely to suffer serious complications as a result of sepsis. This is especially true in the case of elderly individuals with weak immune systems. Early treatment of elder sepsis can help to increase the likelihood of an individual’s survival.
Elder Sepsis Symptoms
Sepsis is often thought of in three separate stages. These stages are known as: sepsis, severe sepsis, and septic shock. Health professionals aim to identify and treat sepsis in its earliest stages. By catching sepsis early on, it is possible to increase a person’s chance of surviving. The longer the symptoms of sepsis go undiagnosed, the less likely a sufferer is of making a recovery.
First Stage Sepsis
The symptoms of the first stage of sepsis, which is known simply as “sepsis” may include:
- A fever that is above 101.3 degrees Fahrenheit or is below 95 degrees Fahrenheit
- A heart rate of 90 beats per minute or higher
- A rate of respiration which is greater than 20 breaths per minute
- The high likelihood or confirmed presence of an infection
Severe Elder Sepsis
The symptoms that may accompany second stage sepsis, which is known as “severe sepsis” include:
- Breathing difficulties
- Pain in the abdomen
- Heart pumping abnormalities
- A decrease in urine output
- A rapid change in an individual’s mental state
If sepsis remains unchecked through these first two stages, a person may go into septic shock. Individuals in a state of elder septic shock exhibit the symptoms of severe sepsis, but also experience an extreme drop in blood pressure. Once in a state of septic shock, it becomes difficult for medical professionals to restore a patient’s blood pressure.
Causes of Sepsis
The primary cause of sepsis is the complications which can accompany an infection. It is possible for any type of infection to lead to sepsis. However, certain types of infections more commonly lead to sepsis. Common types of infection linked to sepsis include pneumonia, abdominal infections, kidney infections, and bloodstream infections.
Sepsis Risk Factors
Sepsis may afflict individuals of any age, but the very young and very elderly are at an increased risk of developing sepsis. Those with compromised immune systems are also more susceptible to suffering from sepsis. Additionally, people who are already very sick or have preexisting injuries such as wounds or burns may be at greater risk of developing sepsis. The presence of an invasive device like a breathing tube or catheter increases sepsis risk.
Sepsis in Nursing Homes
Older individuals are at an increased risk of developing sepsis. In the case of nursing homes, sepsis may come about as a result of an infected bed sore, and then may be worsened by a resident’s other health issues. If not dealt with properly and promptly by nursing home personnel, sepsis may worsen and compromise the life of a resident.
Nursing Home Negligence
In some cases, negligence in the nursing home setting may lead to an elderly resident getting an infection. Subsequently, failure to properly treat an infection may cause the onset of sepsis. Family members may feel that a loved one has suffered from sepsis due to negligence on the part of nursing home staff. In these instances, it may be appropriate to contact an attorney about filing a lawsuit against a negligent nursing home.
Staff, Mayo Clinic. “Sepsis.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 26 1 2013. Web. 23 May 2013. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sepsis/DS01004
Vyas, Jatin. “Sepsis.” Medline Plus. Medline Plus, 23 8 2012. Web. 23 May 2013. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000666.htm