World Sepsis Day – Tuesday 13 September – What are the signs and symptoms of sepsis?

World Sepsis Day 2016
World Sepsis Day 2016
What are the signs and treatment of sepsis?

“The figures are huge” says John Parker who is Leicester’s Hospitals Sepsis Lead Consultant , “every year in the UK there are 150,000 cases of Sepsis, resulting in a staggering 44,000 deaths – more than bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined. Unfortunately the initial signs are often ignored, an individual may say “I just felt like I had a bout of flu, stomach upset or chest infection” and so people don’t get any medical attention. Early diagnosis is essential, so we want to highlight the signs of Sepsis and raise its awareness.”

“It’s important to remember that sepsis is a medical emergency. Every minute and hour counts, especially since the infection can spread quickly. There’s no one symptom of sepsis, but rather it has a combination of symptoms.”

Sepsis is caused by the way the body responds to germs, such as bacteria, getting into your body. The infection may have started anywhere in a sufferer’s body, and may be only in one part of the body or it may be widespread. Sepsis can occur following chest or water infections, problems in the abdomen like burst ulcers, or simple skin injuries like cuts and bites.

“A lot of people will more readily know sepsis as septicaemia or blood poisoning and whilst diagnosis and treatment can be different for adult and children, the basic signs to look out for are:

S lurred speech
E xtreme shivering or muscle pain
P assing no urine (in a day)
S evere breathlessness
I feel like I might die
S kin mottled or discoloured

Amandeep Sadhra who has recovered from sepsis says “I was just going about my normal day, when I noticed a rash on my hand, I didn’t really take any notice of it as I suffer from eczema, but during the course of the day it got worse and was throbbing a lot. By the time I got home after work, I felt very tired and had no appetite. I decided to just take some paracetamol and go to bed. The next day I felt no better and didn’t want to get up and my hand had ballooned up like a boxing glove and I was starting to shiver, I felt like I was getting a fever. It was at this time my husband said we should go to the Emergency Department.

“I received scans, a blood test and was advised that as there was a lot of fluid on my hand that I would have to have an operation, but during the course of the night the doctor advised me that my blood pressure was dropping and the antibiotics were not working and I was going to be transferred to intensive care. The next day I was taken for my operation and woke up five or so days later after my procedure. I was then advised that I had been very ill after my operation, suffering from multiple organ failure, slight pneumonia and it was decided to continue my sedation. I was then advised that I had Sepsis.”

“It was a life-changing event, I had always been fit and healthy but after being discharged from hospital it has taken me several months to recuperate, go back to work, get back to normal. You never think something like this could happen to you, particularly from something so minimal like a skin rash to something life threatening.”

If you suspect sepsis, get medical attention immediately.

Blood Donation: The Easy Way to Save Lives

It seems hard to believe that a single unit of blood can save up to three people’s lives, but that is the truth. By giving up this small sample of our blood, along with little more than an hour of our time, we could possible give three people a second chance in life. One of those could be a family member or a friend who is urgently in need of a donation. A small sacrifice for you is quite possibly a life-saving intervention for them.

Blood Donation - The Easy Way to Save Lives
Blood Donation – The Easy Way to Save Lives

Deciding to give blood isn’t as simple as wanting to give it, though. A number of factors could deem your blood unsuitable for donation, such as any recent pregnancy or childbirth, or undergoing a major operation inside the last six months. While wanting to donate blood is admirable, you should only make a donation if you are sure that your blood would be safe to give to another person. This process can be further complicated by the requirement for compatibility between donor and recipient. People of type A blood, for instance, will not be able to receive from anyone with blood types B or AB, as the presence of the B antigen would cause an antibody against the A antigen and potentially lead to a fatal reaction.

This infographic from Union Quay Medical Centre ( in Ireland tells you everything you need to know before donating blood for the first time, such as the compatibility of blood groups, the eligibility of donation and the before, during and after of the actual donation process. If you’re thinking of becoming a first-time donor but you have unanswered questions, the guide below could address those uncertainties, so why not take a few minutes to read through it?

What are blood types (blood groups)?

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red
Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

People have different types of blood, known as blood groups.

The two main systems for classifying blood groups are:

the ABO blood group system

the Rh system

How are blood groups determined?

Your blood group is determined by genes that you inherit from your parents. It depends on substances in your blood:

antigens – proteins found on the surface of red blood cells that cause antibodies to be produced

antibodies – infection-fighting proteins found in plasma (the liquid part of blood) that are part of your immune system and attack specific antigens if they’re found in your body

The ABO system

Under this system, your blood may belong to one of four groups:

A – you have A antigens on your red blood cells and anti-B antibodies (antibodies that attack B antigens)

B – you have B antigens and anti-A antibodies

AB – you have A and B antigens and no anti-A or anti-B antibodies

O – you have no antigens, but both anti-A and anti-B antibodies

Group O is the most common blood type in the UK.

The Rh system

Red blood cells can also have another antigen called the rhesus factor (Rh factor).

Your blood can be:

RhD positive (also called rhesus positive) – the antigen is present

RhD negative (also called rhesus negative) – the antigen is not present

Most people in the UK are RhD positive.

Your blood group

Your blood group is determined by your ABO group and your RhD group. For example, if your blood is group O and RhD positive, your blood group is O positive.

Why are blood groups important?

Healthcare professionals will check someone’s blood group if they need a blood transfusion, where blood is taken from one person and given to someone else.

Some blood groups cannot be mixed with each other. For example, if your blood is type A, you cannot receive blood from a person with type B blood, because the anti-B antibodies in your blood will attack the B antigens in the donated blood. This can be fatal.

This is why blood groups are checked when people donate blood.

How can I find out my blood group?

You can find out your blood group by giving blood. See How can I find out my blood type? for more information.

Read the answers to more questions about NHS services and treatments.

Celebrate National Blood Donor Month January 2016 – why not become a donor?

Why not make donating blood one of your New Year’s resolutions?

National Blood Donor Month
National Blood Donor Month

January is, as you may know, National Blood Donor Month. So we thought we would kick start 2016 but asking our readers to start giving blood if they do not already do so.

If you are based in the USA check out the Red Cross site here to book an appointment!

In the UK please go to the NHS Blood Donor site which you can find located here.

If you live in Canada please go here for more information. And in India this is a useful resource.

Those you you who live in Australia please see this site. Which is also run by the Red Cross.

For New Zealanders this site is a good port of call for blood donations.

I’ve only covered a few of the major English speaking sites here. If you would like to suggest others that would be brilliant. Please use the comments section below to add any links.

Many thanks in advance and can we wish you a happy and healthy 2016.

Sepsis Awareness Month – find out about the medical condition which causes the deaths of over 250,000 Americans each year.

Sepsis Awareness
Sepsis Awareness
September is, as you may know, Sepsis Awareness Month. I try to highlight the condition each year as it is nearly two years since my father in law nearly died from it.

The Sepsis Alliance in the UK are marking the month by an extensive awareness camplaign with some great food for thought!

“How can a small dog’s nip on the hand or a bug bite result in a battle to stay alive? How does someone go from the happiest day of her life, delivering her child, to being in an intensive care unit on a ventilator – with her family not knowing if she will live or die? How can someone who successfully undergoes a bone marrow transplant to beat cancer die because he got an infection?

These people all had something in common: they developed sepsis, an illness that fewer than half of Americans have ever heard of, yet every two minutes, another person in the country dies of it.

Sepsis is expensive for its victims and for society. It costs more than $17 billion per year to treat sepsis in hospitals in the U.S. The burden in lost income and expenses after initial sepsis treatment isn’t known.

Financial issues post sepsis can range from the inability to continue working in previous jobs to needing long-term care. Cost to the government and tax-payers? Fifty-eight percent of sepsis admissions had Medicare as the primary payer versus 36% for other hospitalizations.”

To find out more about signs, symptoms and treatments for sepsis check out our blog post here.