– Symptoms of sepsis
– Causes of sepsis
– Treatments for sepsis
The somewhat barbaric name of septicemia is “sepsis”, which means a generalized infection throughout the body. This condition must be taken very seriously, as it can affect vital organs and quickly be life-threatening.
What are its causes, symptoms, and treatments? Let’s find out.
Symptoms of sepsis
Sepsis is a generalized infection throughout the body, often starting from an access point called an “infection site” and representing the origin of the disease.
Attention should be paid to the following signs, which may raise suspicion of sepsis:
– high fever, with flare-ups;
– extreme fatigue;
– recurrent malaise;
– drop in blood pressure (systolic pressure below 10)
– increased breathing rate (more than 22 cycles per minute)
– blood clotting disorders
– altered consciousness with incoherent speech, loss of orientation in time or space, hallucinations, inability to recognize loved ones, drowsiness, or abnormal agitation.
Good to know: sepsis occurs in most cases after a serious infection (peritonitis, pneumonia, urinary tract infection, catheter infection, etc.) or a traumatic event (childbirth).
Sepsis is severe and constitutes a life-threatening emergency if a high fever is associated with these symptoms.
Causes of sepsis: An untreated or poorly treated infection
Sepsis occurs due to an untreated or poorly treated infection. The body’s defenses against disease are disrupted, resulting in excessive inflammation that prevents the various organs from functioning.
Bacteria are then discharged into the bloodstream regularly from the source of the infection, which may be:
– a streptococcal or staphylococcal infection (the source of pus);
– a dental infection;
– an infection of the heart muscle or lungs (pneumothorax, lung infection, etc.);
– an infection of the urinary or genital system;
– peritonitis (after appendicitis);
– a catheter infection (kidney patients);
– but also flu (virus).
This is when a germ or micro pathogen can enter the body and spread throughout the body.
This pathology concerns in majority:
– vulnerable or weakened people (after an operation);
– the elderly.
Good to know: Lucretia Borgia died of sepsis in 1519 while giving birth to her 7th child, and Pope John Paul II died of sepsis in 2005.
Several stages of evolution
There are 3 stages: septic syndrome, severe sepsis, and septic shock.
In all three cases, treatment is urgent because the organism may be subject to organ failure (stage 3), such as:
– neurological signs such as impaired consciousness;
– a stop of urinary elimination indicating suffering of the kidney;
– respiratory distress;
– significant cellular suffering.
A hyperleukocytosis higher than 12,000 white blood cells per cubic millimeter of blood or leukopenia (presence of less than 4,000 white blood cells per cubic millimeter of blood) are signs of sepsis. By increasing their numbers, white blood cells fight the ongoing infection, and conversely, widespread infection and organ failure can lower the number of white blood cells in the body.
Treatments for sepsis
Regardless of its stage, the management of sepsis is a medical emergency.
When a patient is diagnosed with sepsis, he or she must be treated with:
– a broad-spectrum antibiotic treatment;
– a search for the germ in question (blood cultures);
– intravenous fluids;
– transfusions if necessary;
– administration of vasopressor drugs to rebalance the body’s blood pressure, which the dilation of the vessels has compromised under the influence of the infection;
– the search for the source of the infection.
In the case of sepsis, the patient is hospitalized in intensive care.
In case of persistent symptoms, high fever associated with the symptoms described above, itself associated with recent hospitalization or recent infection, consult your doctor urgently or go directly to the emergency room.