Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection (pneumonia, abdominal infections, kidney infection, bloodstream infection). Sepsis occurs when chemicals in the body are released into the bloodstream to fight off an infection; these chemicals trigger an inflammatory response throughout the body. This inflammation can cause a cascade of changes that can lead to the damage of multiple organ systems, causing them to fail.
If sepsis progress to septic shock, blood pressure drops dramatically, which may lead to death.
Anyone can develop sepsis, but it is most common and most dangerous in older adults, those with a weakened immune system, are already sick, have wounds, or have invasive devices. Other risk factors includes the rise in drug-resistant bacteria and the over use and/or inappropriate use of antibiotics. Early treatment of sepsis, usually with antibiotics and large amounts of IV fluids, improves chances of survival.
To be diagnosed with sepsis, you must exhibit at least two of the following symptoms, plus a confirmed infection.
Body temperature above 101 F or below 96.8
Heart rate higher than 90 beats a minute
Respiratory rate higher than 20 breaths a minute
Your diagnosis will be upgraded to severe sepsis if you also exhibit at least one of the following signs/symptoms:
Significantly decreased urine output
Abrupt change in mental status
Decrease in platelet count
Abnormal heart pumping function
To be diagnosed with septic shock, you must have the signs/symptoms of severe sepsis, plus extremely low blood pressure that doesn't adequately respond to simple fluid replacement.