Sepsis develops when your body becomes overwhelmed by an infection. It is a very severe illness and can cause widespread inflammation, other problems and sometimes even death. Here are some facts you should know about this life-threatening illness.
This is a severe condition which occurs as a result of an overwhelmed immune system due to an infection. Widespread inflammation is activated by immune chemicals that are released into the blood to fight the infection. This causes leaky vessels and blood clots. The flow of blood is then disrupted which deprives the organs of oxygen and nutrients resulting in damage.
There is organ failure in patients with severe sepsis. If the condition worsens, the blood pressure will reduce, heart will become weak and septic shock may occur. When this takes place, many organs can fail quickly leading to death.
In the ICU, sepsis is a big challenge since it is among the top causes of death. This condition can occur without prediction and progress at an accelerated rate.
Causes of Sepsis
Sepsis does not develop on its own. Medical conditions such as infections of the urinary tract, lungs, abdomen, skin, etc can lead to sepsis. It can also be caused by invasive medical procedures like fitting a vascular catheter which takes bacteria to the bloodstream.
Bacteria, viruses and fungi can all cause sepsis although bacteria are normally the main cause.
Sepsis Cannot Develop on its Own
Invasive medical procedures like the use of a vascular catheter, infection of the urinary tract and infection of the lungs all lead to sepsis. This is because sepsis cannot develop on its own.
Bacteria is the Main Cause of Sepsis
Although viruses and fungi can also result in sepsis, bacteria is the main factor known to cause sepsis. A localized infection or an infection that has spread throughout the entire body leads to severe sepsis.
Some People Have Higher Chances of Developing Sepsis
Although anyone can develop sepsis, individuals with weak immune systems are more prone to this condition. They include:
- The elderly
- Infants and children
- People with medical conditions like cancer, AIDS and diabetes since these diseases directly attack the immune system of the person and make it weak.
- A person who has been under a therapy which suppresses the immune system of the body. For example, the treatment of anti-chemo therapy.
- People who are very much addicted to alcohol/ alcohol abusers.
- Patients who are admitted to the hospitals for some sever reasons.
- If you have physical trauma or serious burns, you are more likely to develop sepsis.
Cases of Sepsis Continue to Increase
The Surviving Sepsis Campaign (SSC) had made research about the sepsis phenomenon and found out that 3 out of 1,000 people are infected with Sepsis. Around 750,000 Americans suffer from sepsis annually. The rate of fatality due to sepsis is around 28-50%. It kills around 6 million new-borns in a year and also attacks 1,00,000 pregnant women. 36 people die each hour because of sepsis and 1.16 million people are affected in USA alone. The figures of sepsis patients are different around the world. The reason behind the rise of sepsis cases can be attributed to an increase in an aging population, the spread of bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics, frequent use of chemotherapy, immunosuppressant drugs and increased invasive procedures.
Most Symptoms of Sepsis are Mistaken for other Illnesses
It is easy to confuse sepsis symptoms with symptoms of other medical conditions. This makes it difficult to diagnose sepsis in the initial stages. The common symptoms include:
- High fever which can be 100.4 Fahrenheit or 38 degrees celcius
- Rapid heart beats
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat breathing
Various Stages of Sepsis:
This disease attack the person in 3 stages. They are as follows:
- Basic/ Uncomplicated sepsis: During this stage, basic infection takes place in the body resulting in a flu and sepsis of this stage can be managed easily and cured at home.
- Severe sepsis: During this stage, the sepsis starts to interfere with the vital organs of the body. The person starts to encounter problems related to lungs, liver, kidney, etc.
- Very severe sepsis/ level of sepsis shock: During this stage, the person’s immunity is at the lowest for all the vital body organs. This results in a drastic fall in the blood pressure level which stops the flow of oxygenated blood to the heart. This might give the patient a severe shock or even a heart attack.
These three stages occur continuously one after the other and will keep on progressing. If these stages are not controlled through treatments, it may lead to the failure of kidneys, lungs, heart, liver and other important body organs and may result in death.
The Development of Early Sepsis Diagnosis is an Ongoing Endeavor
A lot of research is currently under way to determine early diagnosis of sepsis by studying the elements in the bloodstream that could indicate sepsis. This will lead to an increase in survival rates. Also being studied are the variations found in the immune cell gene activity, an operational indicator of the presence of sepsis in mice.
Treatment for the Sepsis Patients
The first level sepsis is just a minor flu and it can be diagnosed with home remedies or antibiotics very easily. In the case of an uncomplicated sepsis, the patients will start showing some serious indications which can be diagnosed by some minor doctor intervention. Uncomplicated sepsis can be easily cured in time.
However, during the last stage of sepsis, the patient has to be admitted to the hospital so as to prevent the septic shocks because in this stage, the body needs some artificial life support which can be provided in the ICU.