What is Sepsis? What are the Symptoms and Treatment Methods?

What is Sepsis? What are the Symptoms and Treatment Methods?


Sepsis is the body's overreaction to a life-threatening infection. In other words, it is your body's overactive and toxic response to an infection. Like a stroke or heart attack, sepsis is a medical emergency that requires prompt diagnosis and treatment. Sepsis can lead to severe septic shock.

Your immune system usually tries to fight off any germs (bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites) to prevent infection. If an infection does occur, your immune system will try to fight it, but you may need help with medications such as antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, and antiparasitics. However, for reasons that have yet to be determined, sometimes the immune system stops fighting "invaders". This is the beginning of sepsis. So what is sepsis? How does it manifest itself? Here is the continuation of our guide for World Sepsis Day:

What is Sepsis?

“What does sepsis mean?” The question can be answered as sepsis is your body's toxic or severe response to an infection. This excessive inflammatory response (swelling) in your body is often caused by a bacterial or viral infection such as pneumonia or the flu. But it can also be caused by parasitic or fungal infections. Your body's immune system, which is supposed to fight infection, gets overdriven and starts attacking your own body’s tissues. Like heart attacks and strokes, sepsis is a medical emergency and must be treated swiftly and effectively.

Sepsis Stages

Sepsis has three stages:

1. Sepsis: An infection enters your bloodstream and causes inflammation throughout your body.

2. Severe sepsis: Infection and inflammation are severe enough to begin to affect organ functions.

3. Septic shock: Septic shock is a serious complication of sepsis that causes a significant drop in blood pressure. This can lead to organ dysfunction, respiratory or heart failure, stroke and possible death.

What Are the Symptoms of Sepsis?

“What are the symptoms of sepsis?” The answer to the question is as follows:

When signs of infection in the blood are well observed and recognized early, the body can be prevented from going into septic shock. These symptoms are generally high fever above 38 degrees, shortness of breath, respiratory rate more than 20 breaths per minute, chills, shivering, heart rate above 90 beats per minute. Sepsis that is not controlled early on with the recognition of these symptoms can cause more severe and serious problems. These symptoms include excessive weight loss, decreased platelet levels in the blood, impaired heart rhythm, decreased urinary frequency, pain and burning sensation during urination, confusion, decrease in body temperature, pale or mottled skin, and shortness of breath.

Sepsis is a condition that can develop in children as well. In children, it also shows the following symptoms:

What are the Causes of Sepsis?

Any infection can cause sepsis, but pneumonia, abdominal infections, blood poisoning, and kidney infections have a higher risk of causing sepsis.

What Are the Risk Factors for Sepsis and Septic Shock?

“What does sepsis mean?” As well as the question of what the risk factors for sepsis and septic shock are. The obvious risk factor is an infection. Any infection from the smallest source (insect bite, snail, etc.) to the more severe (pneumonia, meningitis, and more) can trigger sepsis, which can lead to severe sepsis and septic shock. Infection can be bacterial, viral, fungal or parasitic. But some people have a higher risk of developing infections and sepsis than others.

Those at highest risk of developing sepsis include the very young and very old (infants and the elderly), those with chronic or serious illnesses such as diabetes and cancer, and those with compromised immune systems. People who are malnourished can also get infections more easily.

What is the Difference Between Sepsis and Septic Shock?

Sepsis is your body's toxic response to infection. When it causes organs to fail, it is called severe sepsis. When accompanied by low blood pressure, it is called septic shock and carries the highest risk of death and complications.

Who Gets Sepsis?

“Who gets the symptoms of sepsis?” The question is also among those that are wondered. Some people have a higher risk of developing sepsis than others. However, it is important to keep in mind that sepsis is triggered by an infection elsewhere in the body. Therefore, people with a higher risk of contracting an infection are also at higher risk of developing sepsis. People at highest risk are those with low immunity. However, the age factor is also important. People with weakened immune systems, including the elderly, young children, those undergoing chemotherapy, those who have been infected with HIV, and those in the intensive care unit, are in the high risk group.

How Is Sepsis Diagnosed?

“What causes sepsis?” Diagnosis is made by investigating the patient in detail. If the person has symptoms of sepsis, the doctor will order some tests to diagnose the infection in the blood. The most important of these tests is the blood test. The blood test looks for infection, clotting problems, abnormal liver or kidney function, decreased oxygen levels, an electrolyte imbalance that affects the amount of water in your body and the acidity of your blood. The doctor may also order the following tests based on symptoms and blood test results:

  1. Urine test
  2. Sputum test
  3. Culture tests


If the cause of sepsis cannot be determined, following imaging methods may be used:

  1. Chest X-ray to view the lungs
  2. CT scans to view possible infections in the appendix, pancreas, or bowel area
  3. Ultrasound to view infections in the gallbladder or ovaries
  4. MRI scans that can identify soft tissue infections

How is Sepsis Treated?

If left untreated, sepsis can quickly lead to septic shock and death. Therefore, sepsis treatment is necessary at an early stage. Doctors use a number of methods to treat sepsis, including:

    • Intravenous (IV) antibiotics to fight infection
    • Drugs that increase blood pressure
    • Insulin to stabilize blood sugar
    • Corticosteroids to reduce inflammation
    • Pain relievers to help with discomfort

What is Post Sepsis Syndrome?

Post-septic syndrome (PSS) is a condition that affects 50% of sepsis survivors. It includes physical and/or psychological long-term effects such as:

    • Difficulty sleeping / difficulty falling or staying asleep
    • Fatigue, lethargy
    • Shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing
    • Muscle or joint pain
    • Swelling in the limbs
    • Anorexia
    • Decreased organ function, eg kidney, liver, heart
    • Hair loss
    • Skin rash
    • Hallucinations
    • Panic attacks
    • Nightmares
    • Decreased cognitive (mental) functionality
    • Loss of self-confidence
    • Depression
    • Concentration difficulty
    • Loss of memory


It is a life-threatening and non-contagious disease that is experienced due to your body's response to any infection. However, bacterial, viral and fungal infections that can trigger sepsis and the infection may spread from person to person. COVID-19 is an example of such an infection that can lead to sepsis. Those at highest risk of sepsis include newborns, the elderly, and people with pre-existing health conditions. Among other symptoms, sepsis causes fever or chills, rapid heart rate, confusion, and difficulty breathing. If you have a diagnosed infectious disease or think you have sepsis, you should seek medical help immediately.


Can anyone develop sepsis?

Anyone at any age can develop sepsis. Still, some people have a higher risk of developing sepsis than others. This includes the very old, the very young, and people who may have other health problems.


Is sepsis contagious?

No, sepsis is not contagious. However, the infection that triggers sepsis can be contagious. Chickenpox can spread among children (and adults), but if a person with chickenpox develops sepsis, it does not mean that someone else with chickenpox will also develop sepsis. This is because sepsis is your body's response to the infection, not an infection itself.

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