Learn more about the symptoms and treatment of sepsis, a serious infection-related illness.
Sepsis is a serious condition in which the body responds improperly to an infection. The infection-fighting processes turn on the body, causing the organs to work poorly.
Sepsis may progress to septic shock. This is a dramatic drop in blood pressure that can damage the lungs, kidneys, liver and other organs. When the damage is severe, it can lead to death.
Early treatment of sepsis improves chances for survival.
Symptoms of sepsis may include:
Symptoms of sepsis are not specific. They can vary from person to person, and sepsis may appear differently in children than in adults.
Sepsis may progress to septic shock. Septic shock is a severe drop in blood pressure. Progression to septic shock raises the risk of death. Symptoms of septic shock include:
Any infection could lead to sepsis. Go to a health care provider if you have symptoms of sepsis or an infection or wound that isn't getting better.
Symptoms such as confusion or fast breathing need emergency care.
Any type of infection can lead to sepsis. This includes bacterial, viral or fungal infections. Those that more commonly cause sepsis include infections of:
Some factors that increase the risk infection will lead to sepsis include:
As sepsis worsens, vital organs, such as the brain, heart and kidneys, don't get as much blood as they should. Sepsis may cause atypical blood clotting. The resulting small clots or burst blood vessels may damage or destroy tissues.
Most people recover from mild sepsis, but the mortality rate for septic shock is about 30% to 40%. Also, an episode of severe sepsis raises the risk for future infections.
Doctors often order several tests to try to pinpoint underlying infection.
Blood samples are used to test for:
Other lab tests to find the source of the infection might include samples of:
If the site of infection is not readily found, your health care provider may order more tests. Some examples of imaging tests are:
Early, thorough treatment raises the likelihood of recovery. People who have sepsis need close monitoring and treatment in a hospital intensive care unit. This is because people with sepsis may need lifesaving measures to stabilize breathing and heart action.
Different medications are used in treating sepsis and septic shock. They include:
Other medications may be used, such as insulin for blood sugar levels, or painkillers.
People who have sepsis often get supportive care that includes oxygen. Some people may need a machine help them breathe. If a person's kidneys don't work as well because of the infection, the person may need dialysis.
Surgery may help to remove sources of infection, such as pus, infected tissues or dead tissues.