What is Sepsis?
Sepsis is a life-threatening illness caused by your body`s response to an infection, that can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death. In other words, it is your body over-active and toxic response to an infection. Your immune system protects you from many illnesses and infections, but it also possible for it to go into overdrive in response to an infection.
Sepsis develops when the chemicals the immune system releases into the bloodstream to fight an infection cause inflammation throughout the entire body instead. Severe cases of sepsis can lead to septic shock,which is a medical emergency.
Your immune system usually works to fight any germs bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites to prevent infection. If an infection does occur, the immune system will try to fight it although we may need help with medication such as antibiotics, anti-virals, anti-fungals and anti-parasites.
However, sometimes the immune system stops fighting the invaders and begins to turn on itself. This is the beginning of sepsis happening.
Some people are at higher risk of developing sepsis because they are at higher risk of contracting an infection. These include the very young or very old, those with chronic illnesses and those with a weakened or impaired immune system.
Because it can begin in different parts of the body, this illness can have many different symptoms. The first signs may include rapid breathing and confusion. Other common warning signs include:
- Fever and chills
- Very low body temperature
- Peeing less than normal
- Rapid pulse
- Rapid breathing
- Nausea and vomiting
Sepsis is not diagnosed based on an infection itself. If you have more than one of the symptoms, especially if there are signs of an infection, the doctor will likely suspect sepsis.
Sepsis progresses to severe sepsis when in addition to signs of sepsis, there are signs of organ dysfunction such as difficulty breathing (problem with the lungs), low or no urine output (problem with kidneys), abnormal liver tests (liver) and changes in mental status (problem with brain).
Septic shock is the most severe level and diagnosed when your blood pressure drops to dangerous levels.
Research shows that rapid, effective sepsis treatment includes:
- IV Antibiotics
- IV Fluids - normal saline is one commonly given fluid, it is a crystalloid fluid that contains mineral, sodium that add fluid to the blood system and also Colloids that include albumin and dextran
- Maintaining blood flow to organs
- Treating the source of the infection
Doctors and nurses treat sepsis with antibiotics as soon as possible. Many patients receive oxygen and IV fluids to maintain blood flow and oxygen to organs. Other types of treatment, such as kidney dialysis or assisted breathing with a machine, might be necessary. Sometimes surgery is required to remove tissue damaged by the infection.
Prevent infections by following below tips:
- Take good care of chronic conditions
- Get recommended vaccines
- Remember to wash your hands
- Know the signs and symptoms
- Get medical treatment immediately if you suspect sepsis or have an infection that is not getting better