Sepsis can be treated if detected early, say docs

Sep 13, 2012, 08:16 IST | Anup Satphale

Dr Milind Joshi just had fever, for which he was prescribed some medicine.

When it did not work, Joshi was treated for typhoid, but still there was no respite. A blood test report showed low platelet count, and Joshi was admitted to a private hospital for further treatment.

After a couple of days, Joshi lost consciousness and remained so for 11 days. After Joshi came back to his senses, his doctor told him the organs in his body had been failing because of an infection.

All is well: Dr Milind Joshi, who recovered from multiple-organ failure caused by sepsis

“I don’t know what happened in those 11 days, but the doctor told me about it later,” Joshi said. “I was told I had multi-organ failure because of an infection in the body.”

Joshi’s liver was not functioning properly and the infection in his kidney had increased the urine level in the blood. His lungs were not working properly and Joshi was kept on ventilator.

“Doctors tried each and every test, but failed to detect the disease; my life was in danger,” he said.

“At one point of time, the doctor had thought that this must be leptospirosis, a disease spread by the leptospira bacteria found in water contaminated by animal urine, but after much effort by various doctors I was treated with penicillin, an antibiotic which completely cured me.” Joshi had a medical condition called sepsis, and survived it.

Like him, 57-year-old Rajesh (name changed on request) is another person who suffered because of the medical condition. Recently discharged from a private hospital, he survived sepsis, a most common but least recognised medical condition that can be fatal.

Ulcers in Rajesh’s stomach had spread and mixed with the acids and food, leading to sepsis. When he was admitted to the private hospital, he was critical, but correct diagnosis and treatment helped him beat his illness.

Explaining Rajesh’s line of treatment, Dr Subhal Dixit said: “We control the source and treat the patient with antibiotics. Proper treatment saved Rajesh’s life.”

Sepsis is rapidly affecting many people these days. Around 36 people die each hour worldwide because of sepsis. Dr P K Joshi, chairperson the Indian Society of Critical Care Medicine (ISCCM), said: “Till now, the awareness about sepsis is limited to doctors, but considering the increasing number of cases and the intensity with which sepsis strikes, awareness about it among the public is the need of the hour.”

To create awareness about sepsis, the Global Sepsis Alliance along with local chapter of ISCCM will be observing World Sepsis Day today.

“This awareness programme will include mass events like seminars, discussions, walks, doctor-patient meets and many initiatives on World Sepsis Day,” Subhal Dixit, secretary of ISCCM, said.

Across the world, sepsis kills more people than AIDS, prostate and breast cancer combined. Dr Shirish Prayag, past president of ISCCM, said: “After people get infected, if they do not take proper treatment then it may turn into the sepsis, which spreads through blood and affects many parts like lungs, kidney and brain.

As the patient delays the treatment, the chances of survival go down. There are various grades of sepsis. If only one part is affected, then it is called grade one. If two parts get infected, then it’s called grade two. As the grades increase, so do the chances of death.”

Sepsis: Common causes
>> Bacteria of typhoid may cause sepsis
>>  H1N1 virus may turn into sepsis
>>  Increasing population is also one more reason for prevalence of sepsis. Life spans have increased, but immunity has not in the same proportion
>>  Foreign body intervention, such as any metal part implanted in the body 

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