QUEENSLANDERS are being encouraged learn more about one of the world’s worst silent killers, sepsis, to prevent the condition from claiming more lives.
Sepsis is caused by the body’s response to infection which damages healthy tissue and organs, it is a medical emergency which can lead to organ failure and death if not identified and treated early.
It takes the lives of more adults across Australia than breast, prostate and colorectal cancer combined, and more than the annual national road toll, according to the latest figures.
As of August 2020, close to one in five Queenslanders, or 18 per cent, had no knowledge of sepsis as a health condition.
Due to these concerning figures, peak bodies are attempting to raise awareness through World Sepsis Day today, 13 September.
Cairns Hospital Emergency Doctor Lambros Halkidis said symptoms can vary from person to person and are different for adults and children.
“Early detection and treatment saves lives.
“You know yourself or your loved one best, and your instincts about their illness can help the medical team in our diagnosis and treatment.”
Dr Halkidis said the best chance of getting better from sepsis is to treat it quickly and while it can affect anyone at any age, young children are at greater risk with 40 per cent of all sepsis cases in the world being children under five.
Sepsis symptoms can include dizziness or fainting, confusion or disorientation, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, slurred speech, severe muscle pain and breathlessness.
Queensland Statewide Sepsis Steering Committee chair Professor Bala Venkatesh said continued awareness of the signs and symptoms of sepsis was critical.
“It can be quite hard to diagnose and is often confused with other common illnesses such as gastroenteritis or the flu.”
Prof Venkatesh said there are many similarities between sepsis and other potentially life-threatening viruses and conditions, including Covid.
“There are several parallels between severe Covid, sepsis and septic shock and the principles of management used for treating patients with sepsis are also relevant for those with severe Covid symptom,” he said.
“Sepsis can also result in lifelong disability, time off work, cognitive impairment, learning difficulties and devastating effects on the families of those affected.”
If you think it could be sepsis, don’t wait – seek urgent medical advice by calling 000 or presenting to a hospital emergency department and ask, could this be sepsis?