Sepsis happens when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive in response to an infection. It is often referred to as septicaemia or blood poisoning.
Everybody is potentially at risk of developing sepsis from minor infections, such as a bacterial throat infection. However, people with CGD and other causes of a weakened immune system (e.g. no spleen or immune suppressant treatment) are more at risk.
If picked up early it can be relatively easy to treat but if treatment is delayed it can progress to septic shock.
What to look for
Early signs of sepsis include:
- a high temperature (fever)
- chills and shivering
- a fast heartbeat
- fast breathing
These are the 'cardinal' signs of serious infection that patients with CGD are usually made aware of by their healthcare team.
If this progresses to septic shock then the body “shuts down” and patients may experience:
- feeling dizzy or faint
- confusion or disorientation
- nausea and vomiting
- cold, clammy and pale or mottled skin
What to do
NHS Choices recommends you see your GP immediately if you have recently had an infection or injury and you have possible early signs of sepsis.
Severe sepsis or septic shock are medical emergencies. In other words, sepsis should be treated as quickly and efficiently as possible as soon as it has been identified. This means rapid administration of antibiotics and fluids.
If you think that you or someone in your care has one of these conditions, call your local emergency services.
In the UK ring 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance.
In the EU countries ring you can dial 112 free from any fixed or mobile phone to reach the emergency services.
In the USA dial 911 to contact emergency services.
Other sources of information
- NHS Choices - Sepsis
- The Meningitis Trust has put together a useful symptom checker
- Sepsis Alliance
- National Institute of General Medical Sciences
Reviewed by the CGD Society Clinical Nurse Specialist, 20th October 2020
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