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Three Cheap medicines significantly prevent death from sepsis (severe infections), new study finds

Death from sepsis or severe infections occurs commonly in low income countries. Many die in the hospital despite receiving antibiotics and other forms of treatment. Now, a new study has reported that infusing a combination of three cheap medicines- Vitamin C, Vitamin B (thiamine) and steroids- can really reduce the number of deaths from severe infection.

The study was published in the June, 2017 issue of CHEST journal.

According to a statement by the authors, ’’results suggest that early use of intravenous vitamin c, together with corticosteroids and thiamine may prove to be effective in preventing progressive organ dysfunction, including acute kidney injury , and reducing the mortality of patients with severe sepsis and septic shock.’’

The authors observed that generally persons with severe infection have low levels of vitamin C and thiamine too. Therefore replacing these body nutrients rapidly during infection prevents damage to organs and death. Remarkably, all three agents have been found to be safe even in high doses. In view of these the authors recommended that this treatment strategy could be adopted till additional trials confirm their effectiveness.

Why is this information important?

Sepsis refers to overwhelming infection from any source. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites (malaria parasite).

The number of deaths from sepsis is high worldwide.  It accounts for up to 300 million deaths annually. Most of these occur in developing countries because of limited resources, shortage of health care workers and  late presentation to the hospital. In Nigeria, sepsis was recently reported  as the leading cause of death in children less than 5 year old.

There are already measures and protocols in place to treat sepsis. Nevertheless, the mortality remains high. Some of the laboratory investigations and medicines needed to effectively fight the germs are beyond the reach of millions of patients in low income countries who are expected to pay out of their pocket. Many require critically ill patients require care in Intensive care unit which is quite expensive too.

Therefore, access to a  cheap cocktail of effective medicines  may really boost efforts to  reduce the burden of sepsis in low income countries. Nevertheless, it is important to note that this study was involved a small sample of patients, so it is still difficult to confidently conclude if the treatment is reliable or effective. Hopefully further research would shed more light on this.

In the meantime, what can you do to prevent sepsis?

The most important thing you can do to prevent sepsis is to take steps to prevent infection:

These include

  • Good personal hygiene: Washing hands regularly and properly
  • Proper care of wounds
  • Ensuring your vaccinations are up-to-date (confirm with your doctors )
  • Stopping the inappropriate use of antibiotics. The wrong use of antibiotics makes it more difficult for the medicines to fight germs. Therefore, only use antibiotics on prescription.

Know the warning signs of sepsis and Get proper treatment immediately.

Apart from the signs of a specific infection, according to the Centers for disease control and prevention, look out for the following

  • Shivering or fever
  • Clammy, sweaty skin
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Rapid heart beats


All infections can lead to sepsis. Sepsis usually occurs with infections of the lungs, skin, gut and guts. Several germs cause sepsis, but bacteria are the most common. Therefore, if you have an infection, don’t take it lightly. Get help from reliable sources immediately.

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