Potential Long-Term Effects of Sepsis

Sepsis is the body’s response to a serious infection. Sepsis is life-threatening, and individuals must seek prompt medical care. If an individual does survive sepsis, they could still suffer from serious long-term health effects. Here, we want to review the potential long-term effects of sepsis on the human body. 

What is Sepsis?

Information presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that at least 1.7 million adults develop sepsis each year across the country. Unfortunately, data shows that around 350,000 of these individuals lose their lives during their hospitalization or are discharged to a Hospice care facility. A staggering one out of every three individuals who dies in the hospital had sepsis during their hospitalization.

Sepsis is the body’s reaction to an infection. For most infections, the body is able to isolate the affected area and generate an immune response to target the infection in one specific place. There are times when more severe infections occur that result in the body reacting in an extreme way, sometimes leading to an entire body reaction (septic shock or sepsis). Infections that lead to sepsis often start in the gastrointestinal tract, in the skin, or in the lungs. Without prompt medical treatment, sepsis can lead to the rapid deterioration of the human body, including tissue damage, organ failure, and death.

What Causes Sepsis?

As we mentioned above, sepsis is the body’s reaction to an infection, not an actual infection itself. Anytime outside bacteria enters the body, this can lead to infections that ultimately cause a septic shock reaction. Even though bacterial infections are the most common cause of a septic reaction, this can also be caused by viral infections or fungal infections.

Individuals aged 65 and older and those with a weakened immune system are more likely to develop sepsis after sustaining an infection. Additionally, those with chronic medical conditions, such as lung disease, cancer, diabetes, and kidney disease, are more likely to develop sepsis. Additionally, those who have survived sepsis or those who have had a recent severe illness and hospitalization face a higher risk of septic shock.

How Does Sepsis Affect the Body Long-Term?

The CDC says that individuals to recover from sepsis may have significant long-term complications. Individuals may experience challenges with even the most basic activities, including bathing, walking, standing, using the restroom, etc. The goal of any rehabilitation is to get individuals back to their previous level of health or as healthy as possible, given the situation.

Individuals typically feel a range of symptoms soon after recovering from sepsis, including:

  • General pain or aches throughout the body
  • Shortness of breath
  • Extreme weakness or fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Weight loss and lack of appetite
  • Hair loss, brittle nails, and dry skin

These symptoms typically resolve in the weeks and months following sepsis recovery, but there are various long-term symptoms that can continue to affect people long after hospitalization for sepsis. Some of the most common long-term symptoms associated with septic shock recovery include:

  • Difficulty getting to or staying asleep
  • Vivid hallucinations, panic attacks, or nightmares
  • Extreme joint or muscle pain
  • Decreased cognitive function
  • Loss of self-esteem and confidence
  • Amputations
  • Organ dysfunction (kidney failure, lung problems, issues with the skin)

If you or a loved one has developed sepsis and are wondering what the recovery process will consist of, we encourage you to speak to a skilled physician who can walk you and your family through this process. It is important for those suffering from sepsis, along with their family members, to know the best steps to take moving forward when it comes to treatment. Understanding the timeline of when symptoms will occur and are likely to resolve can give families and victims comfort.

Do These Symptoms Improve?

For those who do survive a septic infection, the symptoms that we have discussed here typically do improve with time. Some medical facilities even have follow-up procedures to help patients and their families after they have been discharged after a septic infection. In many cases, the best course of action is to discharge an individual from a hospital right into a rehabilitation facility or to ensure that the individual has in-home medical treatment to help with the rehabilitation process.

It is absolutely crucial for individuals to follow all treatment recommendations from a medical professional during the treatment of sepsis and during the aftermath. The CDC states that one of the risk factors for developing sepsis is having already survived sepsis. Individuals who have developed an infection that led to sepsis must take steps to prevent future infections. This becomes immensely more difficult for individuals who are older and already at a heightened risk of infections, often due to diabetes or their lifestyle. 

Recovering Compensation for Sepsis

Individuals may be able to recover compensation for an infection or sepsis if the sepsis was caused by the careless or negligent actions of a medical professional. For example, if a medical doctor misdiagnoses an infection or fails to properly treat an infection, and if this misdiagnosis or failure to treat leads to septic shock, a victim or their family may be able to file a Portland medical malpractice lawsuit.

If the initial infection was caused by the negligence of a third party, then it may be possible to file a lawsuit against that third party to recover compensation for what has happened. The most common types of compensation available for a successful sepsis lawsuit includes:

  • All emergency medical bills
  • Any necessary surgical treatment
  • Follow-up medical visits
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation
  • The cost of hospice care
  • Payment for any medical devices or medications
  • Coverage of in-home medical treatment
  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering damages
  • Loss of quality of life damages

Not all cases of sepsis will lead to a lawsuit against a third party or a medical provider. We encourage you to reach out to a skilled Portland septic shock attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can examine the facts of the case and help determine the best steps moving forward for your particular situation.