Sepsis is a very serious medical condition whose root cause is an infection. When the patient’s infection is subsequently treated with chemicals, occasionally these chemicals in addition to the infection will produce inflammation all throughout the body. The inflammation that results is known as sepsis, which can potentially damage organ systems throughout the body and eventually cause them to shut down. Septic shock, the next step in the progression of sepsis, can cause a sharp drop in blood pressure leading to death. Typically, sepsis occurs in elderly patients or persons with weakened immune systems. These are precisely the people who are least capable of fighting sepsis off once it occurs, so a quick diagnosis accompanied by intravenous fluids and antibiotics are essential.
When it comes to preventing sepsis, focus must be placed on sanitary conditions, public education, and possibly vaccination. Patients must be educated about the many modern hospital procedures and healthcare services that actually weaken the human immune system, such as chemotherapy and drugs to treat gastrointestinal illnesses or help the body accept an organ transplant. For example, if a person receives immunosuppressive drugs to help them accept a new kidney, he or she will be less capable of fighting off secondary infection as well as less capable of recovery once a secondary infection takes hold.
Both young children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to infection by the pneumococcus bacteria, which may lead to middle ear infections, pneumonia, meningitis, sinusitis, or even sepsis. Those without spleens are also at high risk for contracting sepsis, as the spleen plays a vital role in fighting against the pneumococcus bacteria. Unfortunately, many patients who have had their spleens removed are not educated on this particular issue, which can have deadly ramifications for both themselves and their relatives. Vaccinations against pneumococcus and meningococcus can vastly improve these patients’ chances at not developing sepsis or passing the infection along to others. This is of particular importance for elderly citizens who may be infected by their grandchildren. Parents are advised to contact their physicians immediately if their infant has a high rectal temperature (>100.4 degrees), seems lethargic, or appears to struggle with breathing.
Regardless of the age of the patient, early detection grants the best chance at survival. If sepsis develops into septic shock, however, the likelihood of mortality increases significantly. Complications caused by septic shock may include tissue death, blood clots, organ system failure, rapid heartbeat, and high fever. Recovery times vary based on how early symptoms were treated as well as by how organ systems were damaged by the corresponding inflammation.