September is Sepsis awareness month. Get Ahead of Sepsis is a national effort to protect people from the devastating effects of sepsis. This initiative emphasizes the importance of early recognition and timely treatment of sepsis, as well as the importance of preventing infections that could lead to sepsis.

Sepsis is the body’s extreme response to an infection. It is a medical emergency and is deadly when it’s not quickly recognized and treated. Patients who develop sepsis have increased risk of complications and death and face higher healthcare costs and longer treatment. Each year in the U.S., more than 1.5 million people develop sepsis, and at least 250,000 Americans die as a result.

The signs and symptoms of sepsis can include a combination of any of confusion or disorientation; shortness of breath; high heart rate; fever, or shivering, or feeling very cold; extreme pain or discomfort; and clammy or sweaty skin.

Talk to your doctor or nurse about steps you can take to prevent infections. Some steps include taking good care of chronic conditions and getting recommended vaccines. Practice good hygiene, such as handwashing, and keeping cuts clean until healed. Get medical care immediately if you suspect sepsis or have an infection that’s not getting better or is getting worse.

Our Healthcare-Associated Infections Program is supporting Get Ahead of Sepsis by joining the sepsis Twitter chat, distributing new educational materials and working closely with federal and local partners to increase awareness of sepsis. For more information about sepsis, visit the CDC website.