Understanding sepsis to save your life
WASHINGTON, April 2, 2016 – Patty Duke’s recent death due to sepsis may be just the wake-up alarm millions of Americans need to learn about the infection. Duke was the beloved actress who starred in “The Patty Duke Show” and won an Oscar for her work in the film “The Miracle Worker.”
Her untimely death due to sepsis infection from a ruptured intestine may have left millions of her followers wondering what exactly is sepsis and how common it is.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 258,000 Americans fall victim to sepsis annually. In fact, it is the ninth-leading cause of disease-related deaths in the nation.
Those who survive sepsis may also suffer a stroke, or permanent damage to their organs.
Even with over a quarter of a million Americans dying from sepsis, very few Americans are aware of exactly what it is and the danger that it presents if left untended. The fact that over one million people are infected with sepsis each year should be reason enough to learn about it.
In a recent online survey conducted by the Sepsis Alliance in 2015, only 47 percent of Americans actually had any awareness of sepsis. On the other hand, 76 percent of the respondents were aware of malaria and 86 percent of them knew about Ebola. Those two diseases are much rarer in America than sepsis.
Understanding what sepsis is the first step to learning how to protect yourself or your family and to prevent it from arising as a medical problem.
According to the CDC, most cases of sepsis are in those with compromised immune systems, such as the elderly or the very young. It is also a high risk for those who suffer from cancer, diabetes or AIDS. In addition, it is crucial to understand that sepsis can occur even from a minor infection.
Treatment of sepsis must be done in a hospital where medical personnel can quickly treat the infection. Treatment can include:
- Antibiotics to keep vital organs working and lessen drop in blood pressure
- Kidney dialysis
- Machine-assisted breathing
- Surgery for removal of tissue damaged by infections
To prevent sepsis, the CDC advises:
- Get vaccinated against the flu, pneumonia and any other infections that could lead to sepsis. Speak with your doctor for more information.
- Prevent infections that may lead to sepsis by always cleaning all scrapes and wounds
- Practice good hygiene, which includes hand-washing as well as bathing regularly
- If you have an infection, look for signs of chills, fever, rash, confusion, disorientation and rapid breathing.
The death of a Hollywood star like Duke can serve the same purpose as Farrah Fawcett’s did. She died on June 25, 2009, at the age of 62 from anal cancer. Fawcett’s death spurred an increase in cancer awareness, and the Farrah Fawcett Foundation continues national cancer awareness and patient support programs.
The death of Patty Duke at the age of 69 may have left a feeling of loss in the hearts of many Americans, but hopefully her cause of death can prevent the deaths of millions of others. That indeed would an excellent tribute to her legacy as a miracle worker.