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AARP The Magazine

What You Need to Know About Sepsis

This severe infection, often known as blood poisoning, can turn deadly fast

So what can you do to protect yourself from sepsis?

1. Make sure you're up-to-date on all appropriate immunizations: Influenza and pneumonia are common precursors to sepsis, and they're highly preventable.

2. Wash your hands regularly: And if you are in the hospital, make sure all health providers wash their hands.

3. Don't take antibiotics for common ailments like colds: Improper antibiotic use creates drug-resistant bacteria that make sepsis dangerous.

Kerri's story has a happy ending: After five days in the hospital, she eventually recovered, and she and Rob got married last September. "The scary thing is how fast you can deteriorate. You can go from thinking you're OK, to a doctor admitting you to the ICU," she says. "The signs were there; I just didn't realize how sick I really was."

Nancy L. Snyderman, M.D., is a head and neck surgeon, and chief medical editor for NBC News. She has written four books, including Dr. Nancy Snyderman’s Guide to Good Health for Women Over Forty.

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VIDEO EXTRA

HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE: Learn how to prevent and manage this common condition.

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