In general, there is a lot of confusion about sepsis, it being blood poisoning or blood infection. Irrespective of the commonly held notions, one fact is for sure that if this condition turns severe it can seriously jeopardize an infected individuals health. Thus it is important for us to understand the term clearly. Sepsis is said to be a potentially fatal condition caused by the presence of toxic substances or microorganisms in the blood stream wherein the entire body develops an inflammatory response to an infection.
The inflammatory condition is characterized by systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) which is basically a stage where the entire body is in a inflamed state due to the inadequate response by our immune system with respect to the infection. Thus, sepsis can be caused due to SIRS or solely due to the existence of an infection. The immune system might also respond in a similar way to microbes in the urine, blood or the tissues of lungs and skin causing dysfunction of those particular organs. The most severe form of this condition would include all three, SIRS, infection and also organ dysfunction.
Symptoms of Sepsis in Children
- One of the earliest symptoms of sepsis in children is constant or fluctuating rectal temperature of 38 degrees Celsius/100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. In such a case consult your doctor immediately. Fever is the initial reaction of the body after coming in contact with infections.
- Another symptom is the disinterest in eating meals or anything for that matter, even usual favorites. In babies, there will be crankiness while feeding and no urge for feeds at the usual timings. Children, suddenly, might not feel like eating at all and might vomit on being fed forcefully. However, vomiting is observed a little late.
- Fatigue is another sign in sepsis infected children, the more apt term being lethargy. Usually active children might come across as suddenly lethargic and listless. They suddenly seem very irritable and, at the same time, very cranky in all reactions. They might lose all interest in activities that usually interested them a lot.
- Weakness is another sepsis symptom in children that is observed gradually, over a period of time. It's not very sudden and towards the later stages, the child might fall ill. The usual tone might also decrease. He/She may develop a rash and also be prone to pneumonia or cellulitis, with both conditions getting worse. Sometimes, even occurrence of jaundice is a possibility.
- Difficulty in breathing will also be observed as children might experience heart palpation. The heart might beat too fast, or too slowly, causing inconvenience to the children. Usually a faster heart rate is observed in the initial stages, while a much weaker heart rate is observed towards the later stages, which is an outcome of a weakened immune system. Sometimes, the baby might stop breathing for more than 10 seconds, which can be termed as apnea.
- Some other sepsis symptoms in children include changes in skin color and a decrease in the amount of urine passed daily. The skin color usually changes to blue or becomes very pale. Again, this is one of the signs that are observed much later as these conditions are experienced after much weakening of the immune system.
It is very important to be aware of these sepsis signs and symptoms and I hope this article helped in doing so. Children are more prone to this condition as they have weaker immunity and infants under 3 months don't even have a completely developed immune system. This makes them more susceptible to sepsis. Similarly, if any child has HIV at birth, it would be more prone to this condition as the immune system is made weaker by other infections/viruses.