Every year, over a million patients are hospitalized for sepsis. Sepsis is a complication of an existing infection that occurs when chemicals in the bloodstream trigger inflammation throughout the body. Patients frequently develop symptoms such as fever, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, confusion, and a racing heart rate. The inflammation can result in damage to multiple organs. Sepsis can also lead to septic shock, in which a substantial drop in blood pressure often leads to heart failure, respiratory failure, stroke, organ failure, and death. The elderly and individuals with weakened immune are most at risk, although anyone can be affected.
It’s critical that sepsis is diagnosed promptly so that treatment can be initiated. Diagnosis is often confirmed by blood tests that show signs of infection or organ damage. Additional testing might be performed to determine the cause of the infection. The physician might perform blood cultures, chest x-rays, wound cultures, or obtain a CT or MRI to try to determine the source of the infection. Once diagnosed, aggressive treatment with IV antibiotics and IV fluids is used. Vasopressors, or medications that restrict blood vessels and raise blood pressure, may be needed if blood pressures don’t return to a normal level. A physician might order corticosteroids, insulin, or pain medication as well. Depending on the source of the infection, surgery may be required to remove infected tissue or pus.