Common cause of death Blood poisoning: How to recognize their signs and save lives
About 150,000 Germans per year suffer from a sepsis so the medical term for is blood poisoning . One-third of those affected do not survive the entire body inflammation – new figures from German Sepsis help show.
Red line under the skin – really signs of blood poisoning?
Why do so many people die from blood poisoning? Often, all help comes too late, as the symptoms of sepsis are generally not well known. Only symptoms of "red line under the skin" that some people have already heard. But this clear, external sign of blood poisoning only occurs when inflammation comes from a wound. "Sepsis is an emergency that needs immediate professional attention," Dr. Johannes Schenkel, Medical Director of Independent Patient Counseling Germany (UPD). "Blood poisoning is always preceded by a local infection," the doctor says.
Sepsis usually develops from bacterial infection, such as
pneumonia (the most common cause of blood poisoning)
Urinary Tract Infection
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Then the signs are not as clear as the visible line under the skin. Other symptoms of sepsis occur:
feeling of weakness
palpitations and high pulse
fever, possibly with frozen, or low temperature (less than 36 degrees)
Blood pressure: the upper systolic blood pressure is 100 mmHg or below  rapid and shallow breathing, at least 22 breaths per minute
confusion: disorientation, restlessness or drowsiness
decreased urinary output (renal function already disturbed)
Is a bacterial meningitis (meningococcus), ie. meningitis Cause of the blood poisoning, red spots can form on the skin, which quickly enlarge and turn dark red or bluish, similar to bruises. In addition, blood-filled vesicles may develop.
A urinary tract infection because the cause also causes the typical burning sensation with urination. Important: If these symptoms occur, the suspicion of blood poisoning is very close. In this case, a doctor should be called immediately! It is an absolute emergency!
An appendicitis can also be recognized by various signs. Which are you can see in the video:
Red stripe is not a classic symptom
Often some of these symptoms may be due to influenza. However,
fever or low temperature
increased heart rate
occurs together, you should immediately call the ambulance. Because in sepsis is: every minute counts, after a short time can be a septic, often fatal shock occurs. Then it comes to multi-organ error.
However, the red stripes on the skin are not a typical symptom. This rather indicates an inflammation of the lymph vessels, caused, for example, by a local inflammation such as an infected mosquito bite. But lymphangitis can also lead to blood poisoning. This means that even with lymphangitis you should go to the doctor quickly!
Blood poisoning: outbreak of the immune system
Why blood poisoning is so dangerous: Normally, our immune system is able to limit local infections directly at the source of inflammation. When the immune system fails to isolate a local infection, e.g. the lungs, because it is too weak, the pathogens and toxins they produce can flood the entire body. In this case, the defense system gets out of control because it is overactivated. At the same time, it tries to fight the bacteria with all kinds of different actions – and it also attacks the body's own cells.
The immune system chases away more and more messenger substances and immune cells throughout the body. But this fierce battle for defense hardly attacks the pathogens, but damages the body:
blood vessels expand and become permeable
blood clotting becomes out of balance, blood clots are formed
Organs are no longer properly supplied with blood.
This body-wide inflammatory response is called "systemic inflammatory response syndrome" (SIRS). If intensive care is not used, sepsis will inevitably lead to shock and death through tissue damage and organ failure. Therefore, it is important to know the symptoms of blood poisoning and immediately call the emergency physician below 112. Then the chance is good to save the patient.
Life after sepsis
Antibiotics are given in emergency therapy, usually in the intensive care unit. "It is also important to identify the cause of inflammation and treat it properly," Dr. with. Schenkel.
Various measures, such as vaccinations, can help prevent infections in the first place – and thus also reduce the risk of sepsis. "For example, some risk groups are recommended to vaccinate against seasonal flu and against pneumococci, which can trigger bacterial pneumonia," says Drs. Leg. "Diseases are among the most common causes of sepsis development."
Why earliest emergency treatment is also important: Around one in six people who survive blood poisoning suffer from health problems, such as nerve and muscle damage, and chronic kidney and liver failure or lack of concentration. Psychological tendon effects are also possible, such as a post-traumatic stress disorder.
Diseases that doctors often diagnose in Germany
Who is particularly vulnerable?
Why is the immune system in a blood poisoning that is out of control, as already mentioned, until not properly clarified today. Theoretically, it can happen to anyone. However, some groups of people are more at risk:
people with weakened immune systems, such as innate immune deficiency, chronic diseases (diabetes, cancer, AIDS) or the immune system's suppressive drugs,
preemies and very old people,
recently operated persons or
Patients who have removed the spleen. Cardiovascular disease can be synchronized with blood poisoning. More about this topic can be found on our topic page. For more information about sepsis, contact Sepsis Help or UPD on 0800 011 77 22.