Infections are on the rise: Sepsis, UTIs and skin infections are becoming more common in the US

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Infections are on the rise in the US – and diabetes is to blame, researchers have warned. 

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the overall rate of hospitalizations, particularly due to UTIs, sepsis and skin infections, increased about 34.5 percent between 2010 and 2015.

However, diabetes patients were almost three times more likely to be hospitalized due to infection than the general population.

The team says its study is the first to examine whether rates of infections among people with and without diabetes has changed over time, and adds that physicians must monitor their patients with diabetes closely to decrease the odds of preventable complications.

For the study, published in the journal Diabetologia, the team looked at data from the 2000-2015 National Inpatient Sample (NIS), a database that looks at in-patient hospitalizations from 46 states.

The NIS records several variables regarding each patient including primary and secondary diagnoses, procedures, demographics, total charges, length of stay and total charges.

Researchers found that people with diabetes were almost three times more likely to be hospitalized with an infection than the general population.

The rates of infection-related hospitalizations for people with diabetes increased 52 percent from 2010 to 2015.

For infection-related hospitalizations for people without diabetes, the rate only increased 17 percent between 2012 and 2015.

People with diabetes are more susceptible to infections because high blood sugar levels can weaken cells in the immune system that fight bacteria. 

Additionally, diabetes sufferers often have low or reduced blood flow to their extremities, such as hands and feet. 

Decreased blood flow means less oxygen and nutrients are being sent to the injured are that promote the body’s natural ability to heal.

The most common infection types, both for diabetes and non-diabetes patients,  were respiratory tract infections and skin and connective tissue infections. 

However, the increase in overall infection rates were driven mainly by UTIs, sepsis and skin infections in people with and without diabetes, as well as skin and connective tissue infections among young people with diabetes.

‘Our findings show that people with diabetes have especially high levels of infection-related hospitalizations,’ said Dr Jessica Harding, a fellow with the CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation. 

‘By identifying and addressing the factors that put people at risk of infection-related hospitalizations, we can work to improve the overall care delivered in our healthcare system.’ 

A study conducted last month by St Georges, University of London looked at electronic hospital records of 85,000 adults with a diabetes diagnosis.

Researchers found that patients with poor control of their diabetes were nearly three times as likely to need hospital treatment for infection compared to patients with good control – and that poor diabetes accounted for 16 percent of all deaths related to infections.

Dr Harding added that a number of steps can be taken to curb this troubling trend, including improving diabetes self-management and promoting education about infections susceptibility.

The findings of the new study are being presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes Annual Meeting held in Berlin, Germany, between October 1 and October 5.

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