The symptoms of sepsis in elderly

What Are the Symptoms of Sepsis?

The first clue that someone might have sepsis is if they have a known or suspected infection. If the infection is present (even if it is being treated) and the following symptoms occur, it is time to take action and see a doctor immediately.

If you are at home, the following symptoms are easily measured.

According to diagnostic criteria, person needs to have at least two of the following symptoms for sepsis to be strongly suspected. However, in elderly people, the presence of one of these symptoms warrants a call to the doctor:

  • Tachycardia: This means the heart is beating faster than normal. A heart rate over 90 beats per minute is considered “tachycardia” in the elderly. To measure heart rate, have the person sit still for a couple of minutes before starting to count beats, using a stopwatch or watch with a second hand.
  • Abnormal Body Temperature: This means that the person either has a fever (above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) or low body temperature, called “hypothermia” (lower than 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Rapid Breathing: This is defined as more than 20 breaths per minute while the person is sitting still.

In addition to the above symptoms, a healthcare provider will also suspect sepsis if they find that the patient has:

  • Reduced PaCO2 Level: This means partial pressure of carbon dioxide in arterial blood.
  • Abnormal White Blood Cell Count: This is a white blood cell count that is either high, low, or composed of greater than 10 percent band cells.

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