Post Sepsis Syndrome
Post Sepsis Syndrome

Following a sepsis illness, many survivors experience physical, emotional and psychological problems along their path to recovery. This is called Post Sepsis Syndrome (PSS) and can last up to 18 months. It is important to be aware of the physical and psychological symptoms of post-sepsis syndrome. If you suffer from these symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider to ensure you receive the care you need to support your recovery.

Physical Symptoms of PSS.

  • Excessive tiredness, lethargy
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling in the limbs
  • Insomnia
  • Repeat infections
  • Bad appetite
  • Hair loss
  • Skin rash
  • Change in vision
  • Joint pain
  • Taste changes
  • Dry Skin

Psychological Symptoms of PSS.

  • Anxiety and fear of experiencing sepsis again
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Flashbacks
  • Decreased cognitive function
  • PTSD
  • Mood swings
  • Memory loss

Causes of PSS differ from patient to patient. For some, poor blood circulation when they were ill caused gangrene resulting amputations of different body parts. Damage to organs such as kidney and liver and lung infections can also lead to symptoms of PSS.

Risk Factors.
Any sepsis survivor, regardless of age, is at risk of suffering from Post Sepsis Syndrome. The risk of developing PSS is higher among patients who spend time in ICU or have extended hospital stays. Older people can have problems walking and be unable to participate in regular activities such as bathing and preparing meals. Children can live with lasting issues and may not be at pre-sepsis function for 28 days following hospitalization.

Because a person may look well, doctors, family members and employers may not know they are suffering. If you are suffering from PSS symptoms, you must speak up in order to get the care and support you need.

There is no one specific treatment for PSS.  If you are experiencing symptom of PSS, talk to your doctor about what treatments might be available. A doctor might refer you to a pain specialist for pain management or to a counselor to manage psychological and emotional symptoms. Physical therapists and occupational therapists can help to manage tiredness and restore range of movement. Having the support of family and friends is also an important component of the recovery process. With time and the correct support, PSS symptoms will resolve.