(CNN) – Sepsis is a medical condition that’s called a “silent killer.” It’s particularly devastating when it develops in children.
September is sepsis awareness month, so health agencies and children’s hospitals are trying to get out the message about what sepsis is and how it can be avoided.
Sepsis is a life-threatening complication caused by the body’s response to infection. Almost any infection can cause it, but once sepsis sets in, early treatment is critical. Sepsis can cause tissue damage, organ failure and death.
It’s a leading cause of death among children. For them, the risk of death increases for every hour of delay in treatment. Some 40,000 children are diagnosed with sepsis each year. 4,500 die and 38% are left with a lifelong disability.
The trouble is, sepsis can be difficult to diagnose and can be confused with other conditions in its early stages. The CDC says it’s important to educate people about infection prevention. Always clean cuts and scrapes and maintain good hygiene.
It’s also important to know the signs and symptoms of sepsis, so you can act quickly to get medical care if you need it. Those signs are: shivering, accompanied by fever or feeling very cold, extreme pain or discomfort, clammy or discolored skin, confusion or disorientation, shortness of breath, and a high heart rate.