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Sepsis awareness this winter

Health and wellbeing

05 December 2022

Cllr André González De Savage

With the dark evenings and cold weather now with us, winter is here and so are some of the common colds and respiratory illnesses that winter can bring.

Preparing yourself for winter is important and to do that there are many things you can do to protect yourself and those around you. This includes getting your flu vaccination or COVID-19 booster, maintaining good hand hygiene to kill off germs and catching your cough or sneeze with a tissue.

As well as actions you can do to help protect yourself and others this winter, it is also important you are aware of symptoms of other illnesses that can be life threatening, such as Sepsis.

Sepsis is the body’s life-threatening reaction to an infection and causes the immune system to overreact and start attacking the body’s own tissues and organs.

Sepsis can sometimes be hard to diagnose due to the symptoms being like other illnesses and that’s why it is important to know the symptoms and to be vigilant on how your own body is feeling.

The common symptoms of Sepsis include:

  • Very high or low temperature
  • Uncontrolled shivering
  • Confusion
  • Passing less urine then normal
  • Blotchy or cold legs and arms
  • Fast or difficult breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Feeling dizzy or faint

Cllr André Gonzales De Savage, Chairman of West Northamptonshire Council has shared his recent experience of falling ill with Sepsis in January 2022 and hopes to help raise awareness of the life-threatening illness and the signs and symptoms associated with it.

Sharing his experience Cllr André Gonzales De Savage said:

"I remember sitting at home, wearing multiple layers of clothing and still needing to be covered in blankets to try and stop the profound shivering I was experiencing.

"My body felt like an ice block, I had felt unwell for a few days at this point and was gradually feeling worse.

"It was like nothing I had experienced before.

"I took myself to bed in the hope that a good night’s sleep would make me feel better, however I found myself at 4am, wide awake needing urgent medical help, how I was feeling was deteriorating rapidly.

"My wife rushed me to A&E and at this point, I was struggling to walk, unable to control my balance and was still severely shaking through feeling extremely cold.

"I knew that this was more than I could treat myself at home and my body wasn’t able to fight whatever it was.

"I spent just over a week in hospital experiencing further symptoms of Sepsis such as high temperatures and constant sweats, little appetite and dehydration.

"The day I was discharged from hospital and walked out the ward, I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t think I was going to be able to walk again.

"It was only a few days previous to going to A&E that I had watched the news where someone had shared their recent experience of Sepsis and mentioned the severe symptoms they felt, which were almost identical to what I was feeling; intense shivering, freezing cold, confusion, difficulty walking, extreme fatigue and feeling lethargic.

"If it wasn’t for seeing media coverage on someone sharing their story and being able to relate to the feelings I was experiencing, I wonder if I would have sought medical help at the time that I did.

"In the run up to being admitted into hospital I remember feeling gradually worse, which may be why I didn’t recognise the symptoms early on.

"I hope by doing the same and sharing my story, that others will recognise symptoms of Sepsis and the severity of it.”

To help protect yourself from Sepsis, it is encouraged that those who are at a higher risk of serious illness, are recommended to get the pneumococcal vaccination which is available on the NHS.

This includes; babies, adults aged over 65 years and over, and children and adults with certain long-term health conditions. For more information on the Pneumococcal vaccine, please visit: Pneumococcal vaccine overview - NHS.

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