July 15th, 2018

To Your Health: Sepsis seemingly becoming more common

By Gillian Slade on January 8, 2018.

We seem to be hearing more and more about cases of sepsis, not only here but around the world.

The initial symptoms can be fairly mild, making it difficult to diagnose but it could be deadly.

A British women ended up with sepsis and surgery after her finger nail became infected.

She had decided to remove her acrylic nails herself and in the process tore off part of her own nail. About a month later she was rushed to hospital facing the possibility of the need to amputate her finger.

She had noticed that her finger nail wasn’t healing but ignored that even though there was pus around the wound.

It was only when she visited her doctor regarding an unrelated matter that the doctor noticed the tip of her finger was purple. She was rushed off to hospital and the top of her finger had to be removed.

According to media reports she was aware that the finger was infected but was shocked that her doctor thought it was so serious she was sent to hospital immediately.

She made a full recovery and says she had no idea that removing a fake nail could cause blood poisoning.

The key difference though is that she damaged her own finger in the process and ignored the fact that it was infected for a month as bacteria was entering her blood.

Blood poisoning occurs when bacteria enters our bloodstream. Sepsis is life-threatening and is caused by your body’s response to an infection. The immune system releases chemicals into the bloodstream, to fight an infection, causing a violent response throughout the body. Your body then attacks your own organs. If sepsis develops you run the risk of multiple organ failure and even death.

One in every 18 deaths in Canada is related to sepsis according to Statistics Canada. There are about 250,000 deaths in the country every year and that means about 14,000 deaths are because of sepsis.

YouTube has many videos of people with infected toes, nails, boils and cysts that are awfully infected before the person seeks medical attention.

Any wound, cut and scrape needs to be carefully washed with an antiseptic. If it is not on the path to healing soon you need to seek medical advice. If you feel unsure about the need to see your doctor you can always ask your pharmacist for an opinion.

In many cases we have the ability to take action to avoid an infection. When we cannot it needs be treated by a medical professional.

The woman with sepsis from that finger nail infection spent six days in hospital and it took a couple surgeries to remove the infection.

The website for the Canadian Sepsis Foundation is well worth visiting for additional information: http://www.canadiansepsisfoundation.ca

Here’s to playing our part in avoiding infections, taking prompt action when it happens and here’s To Your Health.

To Your Health is a weekly column by Gillian Slade, health reporter for the News, bringing you news on health issues and research from around the world. You can reach her at gslade@medicinehatnews.com or 403-528-8635

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