Sepsis in the Elderly a Serious Concern for Families

Sepsis is a serious complication of infection that millions of individuals are diagnosed with every year. Also known as blood poisoning, sepsis is the body’s reaction of infection or injury, but can be life-threatening for individuals with compromised immune systems. Sepsis in the elderly is the most dangerous form, and often results in hospitalization and even death. One of the primary factors contributing to the risk of sepsis in the elderly is the fact that many elderly individuals have additional chronic health conditions, which stifles their body’s ability to fight infection.

According to a study published in journal “Clinical Infectious Diseases”, as much as 60 percent of all sepsis cases in the United States occur among individuals age 65 or older. This percentage is staggering in light of the fact that elderly individuals make up a relatively small portion of the overall population of the U.S. Research also indicates that nearly half of a studied population diagnosed with sepsis required continued care in a nursing home following hospitalization for sepsis.

How to Recognize Sepsis in the Elderly

Researchers and healthcare providers emphatically reiterate the importance of early detection and treatment to promote a positive outcome for individuals with sepsis. One of the most consistent factors in individuals with sepsis is the presence of one or more other chronic illnesses, such as:

 

These conditions themselves may not causes sepsis, but they often limit the immune system of the patient, which can contribute to the acquisition and development of sepsis. Common conditions that directly result in sepsis include pneumonia, urinary tract infections (UTI), or respiratory illness. An injury or illness as simple as a bug bite or the flu can also result in sepsis if infection is not recognized and treated immediately.

Symptoms of Sepsis in the Elderly

Some of the most common symptoms of sepsis include:

In addition to these symptoms, any instances of extremely cold skin or dangerously low blood pressure compounded with any of these symptoms could indicate septic shock. Septic shock is a dangerous condition that is often difficult to treat to a point of full body restoration.

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Sources

http://www.emedicinehealth.com/sepsis_blood_infection/page9_em.htm
http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/40/5/719.full
http://www.sepsisalliance.org/sepsis_and/aging/
http://www.healthline.com/health/sepsis#Overview1