Sepsis is a life-threatening condition caused by the body’s response to infection. This condition can occur when the body’s immune system overworks to fight infection. This is called septicemia.
When infected, the body will release chemicals into the bloodstream to fight the infection. However, if the body’s response to these chemicals is out of balance, changes will occur that can damage multiple organ systems.
During sepsis, the body will experience blood clots. This clotting causes a lack of blood flow to the limbs and internal organs. In severe cases, the patient may experience damage or failure of more than one organ function.
If this condition persists, sepsis will cause a dramatic drop in blood pressure. This condition is called septic shock.
Causes of Sepsis
The most common factor causing sepsis is bacterial infection. However, this condition can also occur due to infection caused by various factors.
Sepsis can start when viruses or bacteria enter the body. Viruses and bacteria can enter through small wounds such as cuts or scratches on the knee and tears on the surface of the skin. There is also a bone infection called osteomyelitis.
In hospitalised patients, bacteria and viruses can enter through the IV line, surgical incisions, and bed wounds.
Below are other types of infection that commonly cause sepsis:
- Pneumonia or inflammatory lung disease.
- A bloodstream infection called bacteremia.
- Infection of the kidneys, bladder, and other parts of the urinary system.
- Digestive system infection which includes organs such as the stomach and colon.
When to See a Doctor for Sepsis?
Patients with sepsis can consult a hematologist. If the doctor suspects sepsis, the patient will be asked to undergo tests to diagnose:
- Source of infection.
- Low blood pressure.
- Low platelet count.
- Changes in liver and kidney function.
- High or low white blood cell count.
- Too much acid in the blood.
- The presence of bacteria in blood or other body fluids
To diagnose these things, the first test that will be conducted is a blood test.
Blood tests are performed by taking a patient’s blood sample, which then will be tested in the laboratory. The results of the blood tests will show evidence of infection, blood clotting problems, and obstructed oxygen availability.
Based on the symptoms, the doctor may also do additional tests, such as:
- Urine test — conducted if the doctor suspects a urinary tract infection and checks for signs of bacteria in the urine.
- Wound secretion — performed by taking a sample of apparently infected wound secretions to determine the type of antibiotic to heal the patient
- Respiratory secretions — performed when the patient has a cough that secretes mucus. The mucus will be sampled and tested to determine the type of germ that is causing the infection
If the doctor has difficulty in locating the infection, the doctor may order imaging tests. This condition usually occurs when the infection occurs inside the body.
Imaging tests that may be conducted include:
- MRI to detect soft tissue infection problems.
- X-ray to detect infectious problems around the lungs.
- CT scan to detect infectious problems in the intestinal and pancreatic area.
- Ultrasound to detect infectious problems in the gallbladder and ovaries.
Symptoms of Sepsis
Patients with sepsis will generally experience initial symptoms such as:
- Change in mental state
- Respiration rate faster than or equal to 22 breaths per minute.
- The first number on the blood pressure gauge is less or equal to 100.
Sepsis can occur in any part of the body, depending on the location of the infection. Therefore, symptoms of sepsis vary from person to person.
Several other symptoms that may indicate a person has sepsis are:
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Extremely low body temperature.
- Racing pulse
- Rapid respiratory rate
- Less frequent urination
If you experience the above symptoms simultaneously, you are advised to immediately consult with a hematologist.
Sepsis can develop into septic shock when certain changes occur in the circulatory system, causing the body’s cells to not function normally. In this condition, the symptoms that may occur are:
- Blood pressure higher than or equal to 65 millimeters of mercury.
- Increased levels of lactic acid in the body, which indicates that the cells in the blood are not using oxygen properly.
Treatment for Sepsis
The doctor may place a patient of sepsis in the ICU first. There, the specialists will try to stop the infection, maintain vital organ function, and regulate the patient’s blood pressure with intravenous fluids and supplemental oxygen.
Early and intensive treatment increases the patient’s chances of surviving sepsis. Patients with sepsis require close monitoring and care in the intensive care unit.
Patients who experience septic shock may need life-saving action by stabilizing respiratory and cardiac functions.
If the doctor is able to locate the infection that causes sepsis, the doctor will administer drugs to target specific germs. Often, doctors will also prescribe vasopressors, which are drugs that cause blood vessels to constrict, increasing blood pressure.
In addition, other medications that may be given are:
- Antibiotics. Treatment with antibiotics should be started as soon as possible. In the early stages, broad-spectrum antibiotics will be given to combat various types of bacteria. Antibiotics can be given intravenously (IV).
- Intravenous fluids. Patients with sepsis will receive intravenous fluids within three hours.
Treatment Cost for Sepsis
The cost for sepesis treatment varies, depending on the symptoms and the treatment method chosen.
For more information regarding the estimated costs of sepsis treatment, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Sepsis
A person may deal with sepsis because their immune system is trying to fight the infection. Infections can appear in multiple areas of the body.
Preventing infection is one of sepsis’s preventive measures. An infection or the entry of bacteria and viruses into the body may also come from a wound in the knee area or a minor injury and tear in the outer layer of skin.
For this reason, wounded skin needs to be treated immediately to prevent it from becoming a place for germs and bacteria to enter the body, leading to infection and sepsis.
Home Remedies for Patients Diagnosed with Sepsis
Sepsis is a life-threatening and dangerous condition. To treat sepsis, intensive and aggressive treatment is required. This can only be done by staying in the ICU room.
Most patients with sepsis will have to undergo treatment in the ICU. If the symptoms have improved, the patient who is allowed to be discharged must make sure to maintain personal fitness and regularly consume the medicine prescribed by the doctor.