How do I recognize blood poisoning?

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From: Bjarne Kommnick


Sepsis is the third most common cause of death in Germany and the most common after corona diseases and influenza. Many cases are preventable.

Berlin – Sepsis, also known as blood poisoning, is an insidious disease. According to the “Germany recognizes sepsis” initiative, 75,000 people die from it every year in Germany alone. This makes it the third leading cause of death. There are more than 11 million deaths from sepsis each year worldwide. Many cases are avoidable, as the initiative describes. In Germany alone, early detection could prevent at least 20,000 deaths. Blood poisoning plays a major role, especially in the case of influenza and corona diseases.

Blood poisoning and corona: 90 percent of all deaths are due to sepsis

The Sepsis Foundation explains the connection between corona and sepsis: “According to a recent review, which included more than 150 studies on Covid-19, almost a third of all patients treated in the hospital with Covid-19 meet to the criteria for sepsis.” About 80 percent of patients in the intensive care unit will suffer from sepsis.

Muscle pain and headache, exhaustion and shortness of breath: Many of the symptoms of sepsis are similar to those of Lung-Covid. (Iconic image) © Oliver Killig/dpa

Konrad Reinhart, an intensive care physician and chairman of the Sepsis Foundation, explained in contrast “Early detection and faster intervention can prevent many deaths and many serious long-term effects, the clock is ticking incredibly fast for the patients,” says Reinhart. According to this, approximately 90 percent of all Covid deaths eventually died from sepsis.

Symptoms of Lung Covid and Post-Sepsis Syndrome almost identical

In addition, according to the Foundation, long-Covid and post-sepsis syndrome, that is, the long-term consequences of the disease in terms of their type and frequency, are largely identical and will occur with similar frequency even in milder courses of the disease without intensive care treatment.

They both include “complaints such as exhaustion and fatigue, persistent shortness of breath on exertion and difficulty breathing, heart attacks, cognitive problems such as memory and concentration problems, sleep disorders, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, muscle aches and headaches”.

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Intensive care doctor: “Even harmless” infections can end in sepsis

In principle, any infection can end in fatal sepsis, “even seemingly harmless people at the beginning,” says Reinhart. In four out of ten cases, sepsis would be the result of pneumonia, only in nine percent of all cases due to a wound infection. The symptoms of sepsis are often not recognized because they are associated with similar symptoms of flu. These will include fever, chills, cough, difficulty breathing and feeling very ill.

However, sepsis does not necessarily have to be accompanied by fever. As a result, hypothermia of the body can even appear as a symptom. Signs of this are heavy and rapid breathing, more than 20 breaths per minute or when blood pressure drops. Other signs of sepsis are when the patient suddenly appears confused or apathetic. “If one of these signs is associated with an infection, the emergency number 112 must be notified immediately,” says Reinhardt.

In sepsis, the immune system is “overactivated”

But how does sepsis develop? The Sepsis Foundation explains: “If bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites cause a local infection, our immune system usually succeeds in containing them directly at the focus of inflammation”. The infection would take a limited course that could be controlled by appropriate treatment measures.

“In the case of sepsis, however, the pathogens break through this local restriction and enter the bloodstream. This causes a general inflammatory response throughout the body, which activates all defense systems via a chain reaction. The immune system is therefore overactivated”. It will not only attack the pathogens, but also the body’s own healthy cells as collateral damage.

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Sepsis: Blood poisoning leads to multi-organ failure

“If an effective antibiotic is not administered quickly or, for example, in the case of a viral infection, a drug effective against this pathogen, multi-organ failure and septic shock develop, in which the blood and oxygen supply to vital organs . is also affected and it ceases to function.” , according to the foundation.



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