Sepsis is a word that strikes fear into many. However, the specifics of what it is and how often it occurs are a little murkier. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sepsis is caused by an infection. The infection could be in your lungs, skin, urinary tract or somewhere else. If it is not treated properly, your body reacts in an extreme manner, which is sepsis.

Sepsis affects many Americans every year

The CDC also states between one and three million people are diagnosed with sepsis each year in the U.S. Roughly 15 to 30 percent will die from it.

Elderly hospital patients are vulnerable

According to The New York Times, sepsis is a common cause of death in hospitals. Elderly hospital patients are more at risk because they often are already suffering from other ailments and may even be terminally ill. It is just that much harder for their bodies to fight off the infection.

Children are also at a greater risk of getting sepsis

Children are also particularly vulnerable to sepsis, particularly children younger than one. In fact, children can develop sepsis during birth. A cut or scrape that is not cleaned properly can lead to sepsis. Also as children attend school or daycare, they are exposed to more illnesses. Ear infections or pneumonia can cause sepsis if left untreated. Children who have not been vaccinated are also more vulnerable to viruses which can then lead to sepsis.

For adults, symptoms typically include extreme pain or discomfort, chills or fever, feeling confused or disoriented, clammy skin, being short of breath and an increased heart rate. In children, they may experience a high fever, shortness of breath, generally feeling unwell, being unable to urinate or urinate very little and a rapid heart rate.

It is best to catch sepsis as quickly as possible. That makes treatment typically more successful, and it can prevent permanent damage to tissue or organs.

Left untreated sepsis can be deadly. If you lost a loved one to sepsis, it is possible the hospital or medical professionals were negligent in treating your loved one. You may have a case for wrongful death, depending on the specific circumstances. While that will not bring your loved one back, it may provide solace holding the guilty parties accountable.