Sepsis is a serious health condition, and can be fatal if not treated properly. Some seniors are more prone to this illness due to weakened immune systems and other health conditions that may be present. In this blog, we will learn more about sepsis, and ways to recognize whether your older loved one might have contracted it.
What is Sepsis?
Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that results from a complication of an infection. The illness occurs when chemicals being released into the blood stream to fight infection cause inflammation to organs and other parts of the body. This inflammation can cause organ failure, sometimes leading to death. People over the age of 65 with health conditions are 13 times more susceptible to developing sepsis.
Here are 6 signs that your older loved one may have developed sepsis. If you see any of these symptoms occur, seek medical attention at once.
Sudden Change in Mental Function
If your loved one suddenly experiences a change in their cognitive function, it could be a sign of a sepsis infection. Look for changes in their ability to think, communicate, or reason. Should you see any rapid fluctuation in your loved one’s mental acuity, seek medical advice right away. They might be suffering from an infection and not be aware of it.
If your loved one suddenly develops shortness of breath, or labored breathing, an unknown infection that has led to sepsis may be present in their blood stream. Should this occur, have your loved one sit down, and try to remain at calm as possible.
Call 911 if they are having difficulty breathing, or if possible, take them to the nearest emergency room.
Medical professionals will be able help stabilize your loved one’s breathing and address a possible infection.
Sudden, Severe Sweating
Another sign of sepsis in seniors is severe sweating, seemingly out of nowhere. Perspiring is one of the ways the body fights infection, by raising its internal core temperature. If your loved one suddenly becomes very hot and starts sweating, don’t waste any time getting them to a doctor or emergency room.
A doctor will be able to determine the cause of the sweating, and test for any underlying conditions causing it. If sepsis is present, the medical team will address the issue immediately.
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Another sign of severe infection and possibly sepsis is shivering. If your loved one suddenly feels very cold and develops a shiver, something is wrong that must be addressed at once. Shivering is often an indication that an infection is present, as the body attempts to stay warm.
If your loved one develops a shiver, seemingly out of nowhere, do all you can to keep them warm with blankets or by turning up the heat. As soon as they are comfortable enough, get them to an emergency room, or doctor quickly.
Infection Specific Symptoms
Sepsis may be suspected through symptoms that are specific to certain infections. For example, pain when urinating could be a sign of a urinary tract infection, or a chronic cough might indicate pneumonia.
With older people, a “wait and see” approach to medical conditions should never be taken. Sepsis can easily develop from seemingly unrelated symptoms. Seek medical attention at once should your loved one exhibit even the slightest sign of an infection.
An unknown case of sepsis can eventually turn to septic shock. Knowing these symptoms of septic shock could possibly save your loved one’s life.
- Being Unable to Stand
- Extreme Fatigue
- Extreme Confusion
- Shakes or Chills
- Very Low Blood Pressure
Frontier Senior Living is Here to Help
The friendly and highly knowledgeable staff at Frontier develop medical care plans that meet the unique needs of each residents. We monitor each resident’s health, so we can both prevent and treat infection should one occur.
If you have any questions about sepsis, or what the best course of action would be for your older loved, one, we are happy to help. If you would like to learn more about our services, we cordially invite you to contact us today.