How do I recognize blood poisoning?

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Out: Bjarne Kommnick


Sepsis is the third most common cause of death in Germany and the most common after coronaviruses and influenza. Many cases are preventable.

Berlin – Sepsis, also known as blood poisoning, is an insidious disease. According to the “Germany Recognizes Sepsis” initiative, 75,000 people die from it every year in Germany alone. This makes it the third leading cause of death. Worldwide, more than 11 million die from sepsis each year. Many cases are preventable, as the initiative describes. In Germany alone, early detection could prevent at least 20,000 deaths. Blood poisoning plays a major role especially in the case of flu and coronavirus diseases.

Blood poisoning and corona: 90 percent of all deaths are caused by sepsis

The Sepsis Foundation explains the link between corona and sepsis: “According to a recent review that included more than 150 studies on Covid-19, almost a third of all patients treated in hospital with Covid-19 meet the criteria for sepsis”. Approximately 80 percent of patients in the intensive care unit would suffer from sepsis.

Muscle and headache pain, exhaustion and shortness of breath: many symptoms of sepsis are similar to those of Long-Covid. (Iconic image) © Oliver Killig/dpa

Konrad Reinhart, an intensive care physician and chairman of the Sepsis Foundation, explained otherwise “Early detection and faster intervention could prevent many deaths and many serious long-term effects, the clock is ticking incredibly fast for patients,” says Reinhart. According to that, about 90 percent of all Covid deaths end up dying from sepsis.

Symptoms of Long Covid and Post-Sepsis syndrome almost identical

According to the foundation, in addition, long-term Covid and post-sepsis syndrome, i.e. the long-term consequences of the disease in terms of their type and frequency, are largely identical and would occur with a similar frequency even in milder courses of the disease. without intensive care.

Both include “complaints such as exhaustion and fatigue, persistent shortness of breath on exertion and difficulty breathing, cardiac disorders, cognitive problems such as memory and concentration problems, sleep disorders, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, muscle pain and headaches.”

Intensive care doctor: Even “harmless” infections can turn into sepsis

Basically, any infection can turn into fatal sepsis, “even a seemingly innocuous one at first,” says Reinhart. In four out of ten cases, sepsis would be the result of pneumonia, in only nine percent of all cases of wound infection. The symptoms of sepsis are often recognized too late because they are associated with flu-like symptoms. These include fever, chills, cough, difficulty breathing and feeling very sick.

However, sepsis is not necessarily accompanied by fever. Accordingly, hypothermia of the body may even appear as a symptom. Symptoms are heavy and rapid breathing, more than 20 breaths per minute or a drop in blood pressure. Other symptoms of sepsis are when the patient suddenly seems confused or apathetic. “If any of these symptoms are associated with an infection, call 112 immediately,” says Reinhardt.

In sepsis, the immune system is “overactivated”

But how does sepsis develop? The Sepsis Foundation explains: “If bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites cause a local infection, our immune system usually stops it directly at the site of inflammation”. The infection would have a limited course that could be controlled by appropriate treatment measures.

“However, in the case of sepsis, pathogens break through this local restriction and enter the bloodstream. This triggers a generalized inflammatory response throughout the body that activates all defense systems through a chain reaction. The immune system is thus reactivated”. This would not only attack pathogens, but also the body’s own healthy cells as collateral damage.

Sepsis: Blood poisoning leads to multi-organ failure

“If an effective antibiotic is not given quickly or, for example, in a viral infection, a drug that is effective against this pathogen, multi-organ failure and septic shock develop, in which the supply of blood and oxygen to vital organs is disrupted. is also affected and these cease to function.” , according to the foundation.

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