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Blood poisoning

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blood poisoningBlood poisoning or sepsis is a life threatening illness. It is caused by the body overreacting to an infection.

The body’s immune system goes into overdrive which can lead to widespread inflammation (swelling) and blood clotting.

What is blood poisoning?

Loss of life or loss of a limb could be the cause of blood poisoning. If a wound gets infected and the immune system is weak, blood poisoning can occur. It means the immune system isn’t strong enough to keep the infection local to the wound. The infection then travels through the blood to the whole body. The process of inflammation normally stops the infection from spreading, but if the immune system cannot cope the infection then spreads to all parts of the body which then leads to a dangerous drop in blood pressure. This causes damage to tissues and interferes with the flow of blood. This stops oxygen reaching the organs and tissue.

What are the most common infections leading to sepsis?

Types of infection associated with sepsis are, lung infection, flu, appendicitis, infection of the lining of the digestive system, an infection of the bladder, skin infections, post-surgical infections, and infections of the nervous system.

Who’s at risk of sepsis?

blood poisoningEveryone is potentially at risk, but some people are more vulnerable. This risk is especially the case for people with weakened immune systems. Those include people with an HIV infection or under treatment for cancer, recovering from an injury or hospitalized with intravenous feeding or catheters. Also, the very young and very old are susceptible to blood poisoning.

What are the symptoms?

High temperature or fever over 38C, chills, a fast heartbeat, fast breathing are symptoms of blood poisoning. If someone has low blood pressure so they feel dizzy when they stand up, they feel confused or disorientated, they have diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting and feel cold, clammy with pale skin, then these could be symptoms of severe sepsis.

What’s the treatment?

Diagnosis is crucial in the case of suspected sepsis, so appropriate treatment can be given immediately. This can help stop long term damage to the body. Various tests are taken of the blood, urine, stools, on the kidneys, liver and heart and respiratory secretions. If the sepsis has been caught early enough, antibiotics can be given. If the person is in septic shock, they will need emergency hospital treatment. The source of the infection will have to be controlled, such as an abscess or infected wound. It might mean surgery to remove the infected tissue and repair the area, or it could just be necessary to drain pus from the wound.

The Ministry of Public Health is committed to improving the health of the Afghan population.