Each month, Benefis Teton Medical Center’s providers, nurses and certified nursing assistants focus their attention on learning about different topics. For September, that was sepsis.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “sepsis is a potentially life-threatening condition caused by the body’s response to an infection. The body normally releases chemicals into the bloodstream to fight an infection. Sepsis occurs when the body’s response to these chemicals is out of balance, triggering changes that can damage multiple organ systems.”

What does this mean? Basically, your body “overcorrects” and rather than fighting the infection effectively, the body causes more damage to itself.

Sepsis can happen to anyone, however there are certain people who are more likely to be affected. Young children, older adults, people with chronic illnesses and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk.

Part of the reason we are so thorough with our intake of patients — whether we see them in the clinic or the emergency room — is our diligence in ensuring they do not have a potential infection that could lead to sepsis. Why are we so focused on diagnosing and treating sepsis as quickly as possible? For every hour sepsis is not treated, the risk of dying increases by 8%. We want to ensure you are properly treated as soon as possible to prevent any lifelong effects or even death.

Since time is so essential with sepsis, it makes for an easy acronym to remember.

T-Temperature. You may have a higher or lower temperature than normal.

I-Infection. You may have signs and symptoms of an infection.

M-Mental Decline. You may feel confused, sleepy or be difficult to rouse.

E-Extremely Ill. You may be experiencing severe pain, discomfort and/or shortness of breath.

Since infection is one of the symptoms of sepsis, it is helpful to know the signs. They include: fever, chills and sweating; increased drainage, pain, heat and redness around a wound or surgical site; change in cough or a new cough; sore throat or a new mouth sore; shortness of breath; nasal congestion; a stiff neck; burning or pain with urination; increased urination; diarrhea; vomiting; and/or pain in the abdomen. Because infections can manifest anywhere in the body, the signs and symptoms are many. Being aware of any concerning changes in your body is always the best practice.

If you have concerns about an infection, please call Benefis Teton Medical Center at 466-6085.