Sepsis is a medical condition that originates with some type of infection that gets out of control in the body. Usually, this is a bacterial infection, but can be viral or fungal. The condition, also called SIRS (system inflammatory response syndrome) is dangerous, and needs immediate hospitalization so it can be dealt with. Sepsis comes in different forms. In severe sepsis, organ dysfunction or failure results. With septic shock, the blood pressure drops quickly as vital organs are deprived of oxygen rich blood when the cardiovascular system fails. Septicemia occurs when the infection gets into the bloodstream itself.
Things You'll Need
- information about sepsis and its symptoms
- regular healthcare provider
- health insurance or ability to pay for own healthcare
Know if you are at risk for sepsis. Those at risk include the very young or very old, those with a genetic predisposition, and those with weakened immune systems. You are also at risk if you are in the hospital as a patient, have a pre-existing infection, or have a severe injury such as a bullet wound.
Know what the common triggers are for sepsis. Sepsis happens when an infection gets out of control in the body. If you have certain infections, you have more chance to develop sepsis. These include urinary tract infections, pneumonia, abdomen infection such as appendicitis or peritonitis, infections of the brain or spinal cord, and skin infections (especially those caused by openings made for catheters and administering intravenous fluids).
Get regular medical check-ups to see if you have any of these risk factors or common triggers. If you are at risk, you need to go to the doctor more often.
Take antibiotics before an operation. If you get an operation, this makes you more susceptible to sepsis because your body uses much of its energy to help you heal, leaving your more vulnerable to infections. The open wound also contributes to this vulnerability. Make sure your doctor starts you on antibiotics before you get the operation.
Change in-dwelling catheters and intravenous needles regularly. Sepsis infections can originate with an infection caused by skin infections resulting from openings made for catheters and intravenous needles, so make sure these are changed frequently if you are using either one.
Go to the doctor if you think you have any type of infection. In general, if you have a fever over 100 degrees fahrenheit, you may have an infection. Also, you may have cold chills or other signs of infection. You need to be treated for any infection so that it doesn't get out of control and lead to sepsis.
Go to the hospital immediately if you start getting any of the symptoms for sepsis. These symptoms include a high fever, fast heart rate, shaking or chills, low amount of urine, a low body temperature, and hyperventilation. The biggest clue is confusion or delirium. If you are treated immediately for sepsis, you may be able to prevent it from entering the bloodstream.