What is Sepsis?

Sepsis is a specific condition in itself, but it is commonly caused by a bacterial infection in the blood, which is called septicemia. This explains why the terms sepsis and septicemia are often used together. Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening condition caused by the body's response to an infection. The body normally releases chemicals into the bloodstream to fight infection. Sepsis occurs when the body's response to these chemicals is out of balance, triggering changes that can damage multiple organ systems. If sepsis progresses to septic shock, blood pressure drops dramatically. This may lead to death.

Causes of Sepsis

While any type of infection — bacterial, viral or fungal — can lead to sepsis, the most likely varieties include: Pneumonia Infection of the digestive system (which includes organs such as the stomach and colon) Infection of the kidney, bladder and other parts of the urinary system Bloodstream infection (bacteremia) Sepsis is caused by infection and can happen to anyone. Sepsis is most common and dangerous in: Older adults Pregnant women Children younger than 1 People who have chronic conditions, such as diabetes, kidney or lung disease, or cancer People who have weakened immune systems Early treatment of sepsis, usually with antibiotics and large amounts of intravenous fluids, improves chances for survival.

Sepsis Signs and Symptoms?

Common signs and symptoms include fever, increased heart rate, increased breathing rate, and confusion. There may also be symptoms related to a specific infection, such as a cough with pneumonia, or painful urination with a kidney infection. In the very young, old, and people with a weakened immune system, there may be no symptoms of a specific infection and the body temperature may be low or normal, rather than high. Severe sepsis is sepsis-causing poor organ function or insufficient blood flow.[8] Insufficient blood flow may be evident by low blood pressure, high blood lactate, or low urine output. Septic shock is low blood pressure due to sepsis that does not improve after fluid replacement.

Can anyone get Sepsis?

While we don’t know for sure if anyone is immune to sepsis, it does appear that anyone can get it. Some people are at a higher risk of developing sepsis than others. This includes the very old, the very young, and people who may have other health issues.

How is Sepsis treated?

Early, aggressive treatment boosts your chances of surviving sepsis. People who have sepsis require close monitoring and treatment in a hospital intensive care unit. If you have sepsis or septic shock, lifesaving measures may be needed to stabilise breathing and heart function. Sepsis is typically treated through the rapid administration of antibiotics; in the pre-antibiotic era, typical patient prognosis was grim. With 30m cases of sepsis globally every year, doctors are fearful of the rising threat of antibiotic resistance.

Useful Sepsis resources