Sepsis: The Leading Cause of Death You've Never Heard of

Jan 25, 2017

Sepsis strikes more than a million Americans every year. Between 28 and 50 percent of those patients will die.

Symptoms: high fever, chills, and dizziness

"People are getting all kinds of procedures that are altering their immune system and their ability to handle these infections, and so what we see is that infections are actually going up and we're getting significant number of deaths," says Dr. Patrick Schlievert, professor and chair in the Department of Microbiology at the UI Carver College of Medicine. "The funding and the understanding that goes with that has not kept up with it."

Sepsis occurs when chemicals released in the bloodstream to fight an infection trigger inflammation throughout the body. That can lead to the damage of multiple organ systems, sometimes even resulting in death.

It’s difficult to identify and difficult to treat. Schelievert says to look out for symptoms of high fever (103 degrees Fahrenheit or above), chills, and dizziness.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Schlievert, and a couple Iowans who have lived through treatment of the condition, to find out more about this deadly condition and how it can be treated and prevented.