Sepsis is considered as a serious medical condition triggered by the response of the body to an infection. It is important to note that sepsis can result to widespread inflammation and blood clotting. The inflammation can result to heat, redness, pain and swelling as well as organ dysfunction or failure. The blood clotting that occurs during sepsis can cause diminished blood flow to the limbs and vital internal organs and even lead to organ failure or gangrene.
Causes of sepsis
The most common cause of sepsis is bacterial infection. It is important to note that sepsis can also be triggered by parasitic, fungal or viral infections. The exact source of the infection includes various areas throughout the body. The usual sites and types of infection that can lead to sepsis include the following:
- Stomach or abdomen – inflammation of the appendix, infection of the abdominal cavity, bowel conditions and liver or gallbladder infections
- Skin – Wounds or skin inflammations as well as openings made with intravenous catheters.
- Central nervous system – infection or inflammation of the spinal cord or brain
- Lungs – infections such as pneumonia
- Urinary tract – urinary tract infections
Who are at risk?
Sepsis can affect any age group but the following are considered high risk:
- Individuals with weakened immune systems
- Infants or young children and the elderly
- Individuals who are hospitalized
- Those who have current infections or medical conditions
- Individuals who have a hereditary or genetic tendency for the condition
- Individuals with severe injuries such as bullet wound or extensive burns
Indications of sepsis
Due to the various areas in the body where sepsis can originate, there are various symptoms that can occur. The most evident symptoms include the following:
- Reduced urine output
- Rapid heart rate
- Shaking and chills
- Warm skin or skin rashes
- Confusion or delirium
An individual is diagnosed with sepsis if he/she has a high or low white blood cell count, low platelet count, acidosis or excess acid in the blood, blood culture with a positive result for bacteria and abnormal liver or kidney function.
Management of sepsis
A vital point in the management of sepsis is prompt diagnosis and treatment. If an individual is diagnosed with severe sepsis, he/she is placed in the intensive care unit of the hospital for specialized care. The doctor will initially try to determine the source and type of infection and provide the suitable antibiotics to manage the infection.
The doctor will administer intravenous fluids to prevent the blood pressure from dropping too low. In some circumstances, vasopressor medications are required in order to achieve an adequate blood pressure level. In some individuals, they are given new drug therapies such as activated protein C. In case of organ failure, proper supportive care is needed.