Many people have heard of sepsis, but a surprising few are not really sure what it is. To dumb it down, sepsis is an infection. But more than that, sepsis is an infection that’s caused by the body trying to fight an infection. The body’s immune system is responsible for keeping it safe from outside substances and invaders like bacteria or viruses. However, sometimes, the immune system actually causes the problem.
That’s the case with Sepsis. The body releases chemicals into the bloodstream to combat infection. However, sometimes, these chemicals actually cause inflammation in the body, rather than fixing the infection. This is Sepsis. Basic cases of sepsis will lead to “Septic Shock”, which is incredibly serious and dangerous. Sepsis results in the death of around 250,000 Americans every single year!
Causes of Sepsis
Typically, it’s possible for any type of infection to theoretically cause Sepsis within the body. However, there are some which are far more likely to do so. Pneumonia is an infection which will commonly cause sepsis. Infections that affect the kidneys or abdomen can also cause it. Finally, any infection in the bloodstream is something that can cause sepsis.
In addition to common infections, there are many risk factors that can play a role in a person getting sepsis. Like many issues, as a person gets older, they are more susceptible. People who have had issues with diseases that weaken the immune system are more likely to get sepsis.
One of the biggest issues in the increase in antibiotic resistance due to the overuse of antibiotics by people in the past. As they have lost their ability to easily eliminate bacteria, people more easily get sepsis.
Symptoms of Sepsis
The symptoms of sepsis are serious. Anytime a person finds themself with these symptoms, they need to contact a doctor. One point is that for any diagnosis to be completed, at least two of the symptoms need to be present. One simply isn’t enough. The symptoms of sepsis include:
- Abnormal Body Temperature - This could be either a very high fever over 101 degrees, or it could be a body temperature that has dropped lower than 96.8 degrees.
- Speedy Heart Rate - Typically a resting heart rate that is beating higher than 90 beats per minute is a sign of sepsis.
- High Rate of Breathing - People with sepsis may find themselves needing to take a breath more than 20 times every minute.
- Infection - The doctor needs to either confirm that an infection exists or is likely to exist. This is an important part of diagnosis.
Treatment of Sepsis
There are multiple stages of sepsis. It moves from basic sepsis to severe sepsis and then finally septic shock. The good news about sepsis is that in commonly occurs in a hospital when someone is recovering from a procedure and gets the infection from that. If you need to get ill, being in a hospital is a good place to start.
Sepsis needs to be treated immediately before it can move on to septic shock. Medications and antibiotics will be introduced. The goal is to fight the infection while stabilizing a person’s blood sugar and blood pressure. Painkillers will likely be part of treatment to keep people from experiencing pain. It’s also crucial to reduce the inflammation being caused. There may even be surgery that’s required to handle the infection. Severe sepsis will often need IVs and respirators to assist. It may even need dialysis. Treating sepsis is no joke!
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