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Sepsis diagnosis 'turned my hair white'

From BBC - September 12, 2017

Sarah McAleer may have survived sepsis, but the trauma turned some of her hair white almost overnight.

The County Down woman first developed what felt like flu symptoms in December 2016.

Days later, the 42-year-old was admitted to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast and diagnosed with pneumonia and sepsis.

In the process, she suffered a collapsed lung, a damaged liver and was completely drained of energy.

To mark World Sepsis Day on Wednesday, she hopes her story will educate others about an infection that kills about 44,000 people each year in the UK.

"After looking at my records, I recall a doctor rolling his eyes and saying that's some infection you have on board - in fact you have sepsis," she said.

'Stabbed with a knife'

Sepsis is a life-threatening illness caused by the body's response to an infection.

It develops when the chemicals that the immune system releases into the bloodstream to fight an infection such as pneumonia cause inflammation throughout the entire body instead.

It can be triggered as a secondary response to an infection, but most commonly occurs in response to bacterial infections of the lungs, urinary tract, abdominal organs and the skin.

Sarah's symptoms were typical - first of all extreme shivering, sweating and then pain spread throughout her body.

According to Sarah, at first doctors in the emergency department confused her symptoms for flu. It was only when she returned 48 hours later that her condition was properly diagnosed and she was hospitalised.

In a blog she described how she felt so ill that she thought she was going to die.

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