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Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Sepsis (Septic Shock)
Sepsis is a life-threatening reaction to an infection. It causes inflammation across large areas of the body and can damage tissue and organs.
Sepsis requires immediate care in a hospital.
Septic shock is sepsis that causes extremely low blood pressure, which limits blood flow to the body. It can cause organ failure and death.
Most of the time, sepsis is caused by a bacterial infection. A long-term or a sudden illness can cause sepsis. An injury or a reaction to surgery can also cause it.
Sepsis can occur in people of any age. But it is more common in infants, older adults, and people who have a compromised immune system that cannot fight infection. Sepsis can develop very quickly.
Sepsis causes a combination of symptoms. Symptoms may include breathing problems, a fast heartbeat, chills, cool clammy skin, skin rashes, and shaking. Other symptoms may include a fever or low body temperature, confusion, and low blood pressure.
If you are concerned about sepsis, go to the hospital immediately. Tell them you are concerned about sepsis.
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and do tests, including blood tests. You may get an X-ray or CT scan to help find the infection.
Doctors will treat sepsis with medicine to treat the infection. They will try to find the infection that led to sepsis.
Machines will track vital signs, including temperature, blood pressure, breathing rate, and pulse rate. You'll get fluids through an IV and may get strong medicine to help raise your blood pressure.
You might need to be treated in an intensive care unit (ICU) for several days or longer. An ICU is a part of the hospital where very sick people get care.
Equipment in the ICU can support your body. That includes your breathing, circulation, fluids, and help for organs like the kidneys and heart. If you need help breathing, a ventilator may be used.
Here are some ways to help prevent infections that could lead to sepsis:
Current as ofJune 9, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineElizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Current as of:
June 9, 2019
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
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