Can you protect yourself from sepsis?

Basically, anyone with an infection can get sepsis. This means: Avoiding infections reduces the risk of sepsis. Regular, thorough hand washing and careful cleaning of wounds are representative of general and specific hygiene measures.

Vaccinations are another way to protect against infections. Examples are vaccinations against seasonal influenza and pneumococci. In particular, chronically ill people and those over 60 should discuss the question of vaccination with their general practitioners.

In addition, there are sensible general recommendations for strengthening the body's defences in the sense of a healthy lifestyle. Recommendations include a balanced, healthy diet, regular exercise, sufficient fluid intake, restful sleep, avoiding permanent stress and a sensible use of stimulants.

Sepsis can develop outside the hospital as well as in the hospital. Infections acquired in hospital are called nosocomial infections. They do not automatically equate to treatment errors.

It is estimated that between one third and 50% of hospital-acquired infections are preventable. However, this also means that 50% to two thirds are not preventable. One of the reasons for this is that it is precisely those people who belong to the risk groups who are treated in hospitals.

Hand disinfection is the most effective means in the hospital to prevent the transmission of infections. For this reason, the S3 guideline "Sepsis - Prevention, Diagnosis, Therapy and Follow-up" recommends making the necessary materials for hand hygiene available directly at the place of treatment and establishing further training in the field of infection prevention for all employees in all hospitals.

What are the causes of sepsis?

Sepsis is caused by an infection.

This means that pathogens such as bacteria, viruses or fungi enter the body and multiply there. The most common cause of sepsis is respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, followed by infections of the abdomen (e.g. intestines, gall bladder) and urinary tract infections. But other infections, such as infections of the heart valves, the central nervous system or of bones and soft tissues, can also be the cause of sepsis. In some cases, the source of infection cannot be determined despite extensive diagnostic measures. Theoretically, any infection can lead to sepsis.