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What is Sepsis? Learn About This Life Threatening Infection-Symptoms and Surviving Sepsis

Updated on January 13, 2017

What Is Sepsis

Sepsis is a life threatening infection that occurs when a large number of infectious agents get into the blood either by an existing infection, a dirty needle or contagious disease. Sepsis is the leading cause of death in ICU and the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Severe sepsis can cause organ failure. Severe sepsis can occur as a result of infection at any body site, including the lungs, abdomen, skin or soft tissue, or urinary tract and as a result of a primary blood stream infection. Sepsis is also known as systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS). Sepsis is a toxic response to infection that kills 258,000 Americans each year. It is a medical emergency that requires early detection and treatment for survival.

Sepsis Is Life Threatening

How Do You Get Sepsis And What Are The Symptoms

There are a few different causes of sepsis. One cause of sepsis is bacteria, a fungus, some parasites and viruses. These causes of sepsis result in infections that start in one area of the body and due to the body’s response, spread to other areas. Some of the most common infection sites are the bladder, brain and kidneys. Other common sites include the liver, lungs and skin. There are cases of sepsis that have resulted in a skin infection, a scrape or anything that can cause bacteria, fungus and viruses to spread into the body.

Different infections can cause different types of illnesses. Examples of illnesses that might lead to sepsis are peritonitis, pneumonia and cellulitis. Some people might acquire sepsis through (IV) catheters or surgical wounds such as perforations of the instestine or bladder during a surgical procedure. Other causes of sepsis include appendicitis, meningitis and urinary tract infection.

Symptoms of Sepsis

  • Decreased urine output or inability to urinate
  • Hypothermia (very low body temperature)
  • Shaking
  • Rapid breathing
  • Chills
  • Warm skin or a skin rash
  • Confusion
  • Fast heart rate
  • Fever
  • Pain

Treating Sepsis

Sepsis should be treated as a medical emergency and efficiently as possible as soon as it has been identified. This means rapid administration of antibiotics and fluids. A 2006 study showed that the risk of death from sepsis increases by 7.6% with every hour that passes before treatment begins.

Treatment includes IV antibiotics and IV fluids. Antibiotics by itself isn't enough as the body needs extra fluids to help keep the blood pressure from dropping dangerously low, throwing the patient into shock. Giving the fluids by IV allows the track of how much fluid is being givem and to control the type of fluid the patient is getting

Bowel Injury and Sepsis

Having a bowel injury during surgery could definitely result in sepsis. When the bowel is perforated, contents of the bowel will leak into the abdomen and result in sepsis. In order to remove the damaged portion of the bowel, the surgeon must cut both sides of the damaged bowel and remove that section of the bowel. The surgeon must then take both remaining ends and put them together and sew it tight so it forms a closed seal. That is known as an end-to-end anastomosis.

Surviving Sepsis

Can you survive sepsis? Yes, it's possible and the reason I know is because I am a sepsis survivor. In fact, I had peritonitis and sepsis. My intestine was perforated three times during a routine laparoscopic umbilical hernia repair. That is how I got septic. It was a struggle and I was hospitalized for nearly 30 days, but I did survive. The survival rate is not that great, but it can be done, so if any of you have a loved one that is in the hospital with sepsis (septicemia), don't give up hope.

Other articles I have you may be interested in:

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Sepsis-Must See Video

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    • weezyschannel profile image
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      Lisa 2 years ago from Central USA

      @teaches-I never thought in a million years about it. I never even knew a bout the word. Amazing how one's life is precious and you don't really realize it or think about it until that "one" day comes. I sure hope I gave someone some insight. Check all your options and research research

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

      This is something to watch for when you undergo surgery. Thanks for the advice and information.

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