Sepsis: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Sepsis is a life-threatening reaction to an infection. It causes inflammation across large areas of the body and can damage tissue and organs. It can also lead to very low blood pressure.

A long-term or a sudden illness can cause sepsis. An injury or a reaction to surgery can also cause it. Sepsis can develop very quickly.

It's important to care for yourself and try to avoid infections so that you don't get sepsis again.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Help prevent infections that could lead to sepsis:
    • Try to avoid colds and influenza (flu). If you must be around people who have a cold or the flu, wash your hands often. And get a flu vaccine every year.
    • Get a pneumococcal vaccine shot (to prevent pneumonia, meningitis, and other infections). If you have had one before, ask your doctor if you need another dose.
    • Clean any wounds or scrapes.
  • Do not smoke or use other tobacco products. When you quit smoking, you are less likely to get a cold, the flu, bronchitis, and pneumonia. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of fluids. Choose water and other caffeine-free clear liquids until you feel better. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet every day.
  • If your doctor recommends it, try doing some physical activity. Walking is a good choice. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk every day.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have symptoms of sepsis. These may include:
    • Shortness of breath.
    • A fast heart rate.
    • Cool, pale, or clammy skin.
    • Feeling confused.
  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.
  • You have a fever or chills.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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