Septic shock or severe case of sepsis is due to an infection that leads to significant changes in the body that can be life-threatening. This occurs once chemicals that fight infection by activating inflammatory reactions are discharged into the bloodstream.
What are the indications of septic shock?
The initial symptoms should not be ignored which includes the following:
- Rapid heart rate
- Fever higher than 101 degrees F
- Low body temperature
- Rapid breathing that is more than 20 breaths per minute
In severe cases of sepsis, the symptoms might include dizziness, evidently diminished urine output, acute confusion, bluish discoloration of the lips or fingers and severe breathing issues. An individual with septic shock have symptoms of severe sepsis but also have low blood pressure that does not respond to fluid replacement.
Causes of septic shock
A fungal, bacterial or viral infection can lead to sepsis. The infections can start at home or while hospitalized for treatment. Sepsis usually originates from the following:
- Urinary tract infection
- Digestive system infections
- Lung infections
- Reproductive system infections
There are certain factors such as previous illnesses or age that can put an individual at higher likelihood for developing septic shock. This condition is quite common among newborns, elderly, pregnant women or those who have weakened immune systems due to rheumatic disease or HIV.
Factors that puts an individual at risk for ending up with septic shock include the following:
- Poor nutrition
- Major surgery or long-term hospitalization
- Exposure to medical devices such as urinary catheters or breathing tubes
- Severely sick individuals who are hospitalized
As long as sepsis is identified and treated early, it is likely for the individual to survive. Once diagnosed early, the individual is likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) for treatment. The doctor will utilize various medications to manage septic shock including:
- Intravenous antibiotics
- Insulin for stability of the blood sugar level
- Vasopressor medications which constrict the blood vessels and increase the blood pressure
Large amounts of IV fluids might be given to manage dehydration and help boost the blood pressure and blood flow to the organs. In some cases, a respirator might be used to help with breathing. Surgery might also be carried out to get rid of the source of infection such as drainage of a pus-filled abscess or removal of an infected tissue.