15 December, 2021
Sepsis is a medical condition that occurs when your body evokes a severe and extreme response towards an infection. If symptoms are left untreated, it could lead to dire consequences like organ failure or even death, in extreme cases. Common causes of sepsis are bacterial infections or when an existing infection in the body sets off a chain reaction in the body leading to the condition. More surprising causes of sepsis are irrational usage of antibiotics, which results in increased antibiotic resistance, rendering antibiotic treatments futile. It is important to note that it is a potentially life-threatening condition, so care must be taken to treat sepsis symptoms immediately. Usually, the condition begins with infected cuts which develop post-surgery, making those who recently went under the knife a high-risk group. Apart from these people, diabetics, people with chronic conditions, those with a weakened immune system, infants and pregnant women are prone to sepsis.
In severe cases, sepsis develops into septic shock, which leads to dangerously low blood pressure and multiple organ failure. It is diagnosed through physical tests, and running lab tests and imaging tests (such as X-Ray) to locate the site of infection. Read on to learn more about the causes of sepsis and its symptoms.
Causes of Sepsis
Simply put, as germs enter the body, it results in an infection – and when the infection is left untreated, it results in sepsis. While it is true that sepsis may be potentially life-threatening in some cases, its severity ranges from mild to extremely severe. While it may occur after any bacterial, viral or fungal infection, someone who has had a bloodstream infection is under greater threat of developing sepsis and other resulting complications. Sepsis is more common in old age due to a weaker immune system and is seen more in the population aged over 65. In some cases, it can occur in people who have no clue that they had an infection. This is why regular medical check-ups are advised. Another cause of sepsis is increased antibiotic resistance which means that an antibiotic’s ability to treat the infection is significantly lowered.
Symptoms of Sepsis
Sepsis may occur after any bacterial, fungal or viral infection outbreak has already occurred. Examples of certain infections that may give way to sepsis include common skin infections, urinary tract infections, abdominal infections and pneumonia. Recently, with the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, it was noted that the patients of COVID were susceptible to sepsis, as they had been exposed to the virus. Exposure to catheters, urinary catheters and breathing tubes may also introduce an infection into the body, so care is to be taken while using such invasive devices. While it may even occur in normal people, those who have a compromised or weakened immune system are more likely to develop septic shock or sepsis. Some symptoms of sepsis to look out for are:
- A quickened heartbeat, more than 90 beats per minute
- A fever with a temperature higher than 101ºF (38ºC)
- A temperature below 96.8ºF (36ºC)
- Shivering or chills
- High breathing rate, with more than 20 breaths per minute
- Extreme discomfort, and pain
- Low urine output
- Weak pulse
- Clamminess and sweaty skin
- Shortness of breath/hyperventilation
It is extremely important that if any of these symptoms are detected, that they are immediately taken to a medical professional to run the required tests and treat the infection.
Prevention of Sepsis
The best measure of prevention is being aware of the symptoms, to ensure swift action in case the symptoms of sepsis begin to occur. Like any other medical condition which is better prevented than cured, the bottom line here is to ensure that hygienic practices are followed rigorously. Such preventive measures include regular washing of hands for at least 15-20 seconds with soap and water and maintaining a hygienic environment. For those with serious and chronic conditions, it is advised that they keep getting regular checkups done. If an infection is suspected to present symptoms, it is advisable to immediately seek the help of a medical practitioner to diagnose the problem. Another preventive measure is to promptly get all the recommended vaccinations. Sepsis can be prevented if any cuts are kept properly cleaned and covered until they heal. Being aware of the symptoms of sepsis can help tremendously in acting quickly, and is the most important preventive measure.
Everything said and done, it is of importance that if the symptoms of sepsis arise for you or a loved one, you act fast. Quick action must be taken, and rapid medical assessments must be carried out. Sepsis is a largely preventable infection and maintaining hygiene and being aware of the symptoms alone can go a long way in ensuring that it is kept at bay.At SPARSH Hospital, our goal is to provide the best treatment possible to all our patients that put their trust in us and quality healthcare to all irrespective of their background to ensure that top-notch medical facilities are accessible to everyone. We strongly believe that the union of technology and science can truly give way to miracles in healthcare. Our team of dedicated doctors will tend to your treatment and questions to ensure you have a worry-free experience and a healthy recovery. For more information about us, reach out at: https://www.sparshhospital.com/contact-us.
Category: Critical Care and Emergency Medicine