Sepsis: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
What is sepsis?
Sepsis is a life-threatening complication of an infection. Sepsis occurs when chemicals released in the bloodstream to fight an infection trigger inflammation throughout the body. Basically, sepsis occurs when the body’s response to an infection damages its own tissues.
Most infections that cause sepsis are bacterial in nature. But few other infections — including COVID-19, influenza, and fungal infections — can also lead to sepsis.
Sepsis may progress to septic shock. This is a dramatic drop in blood pressure that can lead to severe organ problems (multi organ failures) and death.
There are 3 stages of sepsis:
- Sepsis. An infection gets into your bloodstream and causes inflammation in your body.
- Severe sepsis. The infection and inflammation is severe enough to start affecting organ function.
- Septic shock. Septic shock is a severe complication of sepsis that causes a significant drop in blood pressure.
Signs and symptoms of sepsis
Symptoms of sepsis can include:
- fever and/or chills
- confusion or disorientation
- difficulty breathing
- fast heart rate or low blood pressure (hypotension)
- extreme pain
- sweaty skin
Symptoms of severe sepsis can include:
- difficulty breathing
- bluish discoloration of the skin, especially lips, fingers, toes
- chills due to a drop in body temperature
- decreased urination
- changes in mental ability
- extreme weakness (asthenia)
- low platelet count (thrombocytopenia)
- abnormal heart functions
Symptoms of septic shock (septicemia)
Sepsis can advance very quickly to severe sepsis and septic shock. As it transitions, it becomes more life threatening. Key symptom of septic shock is very low blood pressure.
It’s important to seek immediate medical attention if you have any symptoms of sepsis (of any forms). The earlier you seek treatment at emergency critical care hospital, the greater chance you have of recovering.
Causes of sepsis
Bacterial infections are the most common cause of sepsis. It can also be caused by fungal, parasitic, or viral infections. Common types in infections that can lead to sepsis include:
- Lungs, such as pneumonia
- Kidney, bladder and other parts of the urinary system
- Digestive system
- Bloodstream (bacteremia) – blood poisoning
- Catheter sites
- Wounds or burns
Sepsis if left untreated can quickly progress to septic shock and death. Hence prompt diagnosis and prompt treatment is the basic necessity.
Patients diagnosed with sepsis are usually kept in ICU of the hospital for special critical care treatment. Doctors use a number of medications to treat sepsis, including:
- intravenous (IV) antibiotics to fight the infection
- medications to increase blood pressure
- insulin to stabilize blood sugar
- corticosteroids to reduce inflammation
- pain relievers to help with discomfort
If the kidneys are infected (or kidney failure occurs), dialysis might be necessary in some cases. While in some cases surgery may be needed to remove the source of an infection. Surgeries are conducted to cure gangrene or abscesses.
The bottom line
Sepsis is a life-threatening illness caused by your body’s response to an infection. It occurs when your body’s immune system gets out of control. Hence seek emergency medical attention if you suspect any symptoms of sepsis, especially if you have any known infection.
Looking for emergency hospital in Ahmedabad? Contact Phoenix Hospital.
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