Sepsis is a life-threatening condition caused by the body’s overwhelming and often dangerous response to infection. It can cause tissue damage, organ failure, and death.
Symptoms of sepsis may include:
- Fever, chills, or very cold hands and feet
- Extreme pain or discomfort
- Clammy or sweaty skin
- Confusion or disorientation
- Shortness of breath
- High heart rate
The earlier sepsis is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome. Sepsis treatment typically includes antibiotics, IV fluids, and oxygen to help stabilize the body. In severe cases, more aggressive treatments may be necessary, such as surgery to remove dead tissue or a breathing tube to help with respiration. In some cases, drugs to regulate blood pressure may be needed. In the most serious cases, a patient may require admission to an intensive care unit (ICU).
Sepsis symptoms can be experienced by patients who have infections. The condition of sepsis occurs when an infection has been spread by the bloodstream.
The resulting symptoms may be due to the immune response or creation of other toxins by the infection. Sufferers who have developed this condition are known as septic patients. Some groups of people are more at risk to develop sepsis. Those who have immune system impairment due to other diseases or conditions, such as cancer or HIV, may develop infections more easily and the body lacks the ability to effectively control the infections. In addition, very young infants and the elderly are also at a higher risk. Systemic inflammatory response syndrome, or SIRS, is a condition related to sepsis in which the patient has swelling all over their body due to the infection. Sepsis fatalities have grown recently due to the larger aging population and the increased usage of chemotherapy and other cancer treatments.
There are multiple sepsis causes, but the most common is because of a bacterial infection. Viral and sources can also be the source of the condition. Generally, the infection begins in the lungs, kidneys, skin, abdomen, or bladder, and then is spread to other areas of the body. This condition can be the result of infection developed during a surgical procedure. Depending on the source of the infection, the symptoms of sepsis may vary. Frequently reported signs are chills and fevers, shaking, abnormal heart rate, low blood pressure, confusion, joint pain, dizziness, and skin rashes. The condition of septicemia is when the entire body has become infected and is usually manifested by exhaustion, chills, and fevers.
With medical treatment, the patient is usually administered oxygen to facilitate breathing and antibiotics through intravenous tubes. For patients with septicemia, large doses of antibiotics will be needed to control the infection. Depending on the location of the infection, surgery may need to be applied to drain the infection. In addition, special cases may require blood transfusions or hemodialysis to combat the infection. In severe sepsis, a local physician will advise that the patient be admitted to a hospital. Severe sepsis happens in situations where the infection impairs proper function of bodily organs and can lead to septic shock. The Henry Ford Hospital developed a treatment method known as Early Goal Directed Therapy, or EGDT. This method utilizes a system of steps to ensure that the heart and other organs receive enough oxygen.
Any patient who is in the higher risk groups for sepsis causes or who has had recent surgery should consult a local doctor if they exhibit the signs of sepsis. The condition is better controlled if caught early. For ordinarily healthy patients, the recovery rate is 95%. However, those patients in the risk groups, the recovery rate could be as low as 20%. Sepsis symptoms can be indicative of a severe condition and should be taken seriously.