sepsis


Written By: Ehsan Jahandarpour

Sepsis () is a whole-body inflammation caused by an infection. Common signs and symptoms include fever, increased heart rate, increased breathing rate, and confusion. There may also be symptoms related to a specific infection such as a cough with pneumonia or painful urination, with a kidney infection. In the very young, old, and people with a weakened immune system, there may be no symptoms of a specific infection and the body temperature may be low or normal rather than high. Severe sepsis is sepsis causing poor organ function or insufficient blood flow. Insufficient blood flow may be evident by low blood pressure, high blood lactate, or low urine output. Septic shock is low blood pressure due to sepsis that does not improve after reasonable amounts of intravenous fluids are given. Sepsis is caused by an immune response triggered by an infection. The infection is most commonly by bacteria, but can also be by fungi, viruses, or parasites. Common locations for the primary infection include: lungs, brain, urinary tract, skin, and abdominal organs. Risk factors include young or old age, a weakened immune system from conditions such as cancer or diabetes, and major trauma or burns. Diagnosis is based on meeting at least two systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) criteria due to a presumed infection. Blood cultures are recommended preferably before antibiotics are started; however, infection of the blood is not required for the diagnosis. Medical imaging should be done looking for the possible location of infection. Other potential causes of similar signs and symptoms include: anaphylaxis, adrenal insufficiency, low blood volume, heart failure, and pulmonary embolism among others. Sepsis is usually treated with intravenous fluids and antibiotics. This is often done in an intensive care unit. If fluid replacement is not enough to maintain blood pressure, medications that raise blood pressure can be used. Mechanical ventilation and dialysis may be needed to support the function of the lungs and kidneys, respectively. To guide treatment, a central venous catheter and an arterial catheter may be placed. Other measurements such as cardiac output and superior vena cava oxygen saturation may also be used. People with sepsis need preventive measures for deep vein thrombosis, stress ulcers and pressure ulcers, unless other conditions prevent such interventions. Some might benefit from tight control of blood sugar levels with insulin. The use of corticosteroids is controversial. Activated drotrecogin alfa, originally marketed for severe sepsis, has not been found to be helpful, and was withdrawn from sale in 2011. Disease severity partly determines the outcome with the risk of death from sepsis being as high as 30%, severe sepsis as high as 50%, and septic shock as high as 80%. The total number of cases worldwide is unknown as there is little data from the developing world. Estimates suggest sepsis affects millions of people a year. In the developed world about 0.2 to 3 per 1000 people gets sepsis yearly or about a million cases per year in the United States. Rates of disease have been increasing. Sepsis is more common among males than females. The terms septicemia and blood poisoning referred to the microorganisms or their toxins in the blood and are no longer commonly used. The condition has been described at least since the time of Hippocrates.