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Sepsis Shock: What you need to know


Sepsis is the result of an infection, and causes drastic changes in the body. It can be very dangerous and potentially life-threatening.

Septic shock is when you experience a significant drop in blood pressure that can lead to respiratory or heart failure, stroke, failure of other organs, and death.

It is thought that the inflammation resulting from sepsis causes tiny blood clots to form. This can block oxygen and nutrients from reaching vital organs.

The inflammation occurs most often in older adults or those with a weakened immune system. But both sepsis and septic shock can happen to anyone.

Septic shock is the most common cause of death in intensive care units in the United States.

What are the symptoms of sepsis shock?

Early symptoms of sepsis should not be ignored. These include: fever usually higher than 101˚F (38˚C), low body temperature (hypothermia), fast heart rate,  rapid breathing, or more than 20 breaths per minute.

Severe sepsis is defined as sepsis with evidence of organ damage that usually affects the kidneys, heart, lungs, or brain. Symptoms of severe sepsis include: noticeably lower amounts of urine,  acute confusion,  dizziness, severe problems breathing,  bluish discoloration of the digits or lips (cyanosis).

People who are experiencing septic shock will experience the symptoms of severe sepsis, but they will also have very low blood pressure that doesn’t respond to fluid replacement.


A bacterial, fungal, or viral infection can cause sepsis. Any of the infections may begin at home or while you are in the hospital for treatment of another condition.

Sepsis commonly originates from: abdominal or digestive system infections,  lung infections like pneumonia,  urinary tract infection,  reproductive system infection.

The following factors could also make it more likely that a person develops septic shock:

major surgery or long-term hospitalization

diabetes type 1 and type 2 injection drug use

hospitalized patients that are already very sick

exposure to devices like intravenous catheters, urinary catheters, or breathing tubes, which can introduce bacteria into the body poor nutrition


The earlier sepsis is diagnosed and treated, the more likely you are to survive. Once sepsis is diagnosed, you will most likely be admitted to an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for treatment. Doctors use a number of medications to treat septic shock, including: intravenous antibiotics to fight infection, insulin for blood sugar stability, corticosteroids.

Large amounts of intravenous (IV) fluids will be administered to treat dehydration and help increase blood pressure and blood flow to the organs. A respirator for breathing may also be necessary. Surgery may be performed to remove a source of infection, such as draining a pus-filled abscess or removing infected tissue.



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