Sepsis In Infants & Children: What You Need To Know
While we are all prone to infection, children are particularly vulnerable. Almost all infections can lead to sepsis.
What is sepsis?
In the event of an infection, our body releases certain chemicals into the bloodstream to fight it. When the body’s response to these chemicals goes berserk, it triggers changes that can damage multiple organ systems. If not treated on time, sepsis can cause death.
While sepsis can strike anyone, it tends to be more common among senior citizens and children. Among children, newborns and infants are more susceptible.
The best and possibly the only way to deal with sepsis is to detect it early and provide immediate treatment. Remember sepsis can be preceded by a urinary tract infection, bone or skin infection, or pneumonia.
Signs to look for
Fever or low temperature – in newborns, it’ll be low temperature
Fast heart rate
Clammy or pale skin
Confusion, dizziness or disorientation
Shortness of breath
Severe pain or discomfort
Nausea and vomiting
When a child is sick, it’s likely that they experience one of these symptoms. So, how can you know that your child has sepsis or not? If they have more than one of the above-mentioned symptoms you need to be alert. The other symptoms to watch out for are difficulty breathing, becoming unresponsive or not urinating for more than 12 hours. If you find any of these symptoms, immediately take your child to the hospital.
Sepsis or even suspected sepsis requires the child to be admitted to the intensive care unit. IV antibiotics will be given to the child to help them fight the infection. In addition to these IV fluids, heart and blood pressure medicines, medicines to keep the child calm are widely used in the treatment of sepsis. In certain cases, the child may require ventilator support.
Like in any medical procedure, it’s important to know what type of virus or bacteria is causing the infection. The common tests performed to find out the reason for sepsis include blood test, urine test, spinal cord fluid test, x-ray and ultrasound.
If a newborn has sepsis within 90 days of birth, it’s called neonatal sepsis. If the child develops sepsis within the first few hours or days after birth it’s called early-onset sepsis. If sepsis is developed after a week, it’s called late-onset neonatal sepsis.
Sepsis in older children
As children start going to school, they are more exposed to infection. Some of the common bacterial infections that, if not treated on time, can lead to sepsis are urinary tract infections, skin infections, pneumonia, appendicitis and meningitis. Make sure that you don’t ignore any of these infections and get your children treated on time.
Seek your paediatrician’s advice
Take good care of your child’s chronic health conditions
Take vaccination on time
Practice good hygiene, wash hands properly, take good care of bruises and wounds
Be aware of sepsis. After all, knowledge is the best weapon against diseases and infections!