Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when an infection spreads through the bloodstream and triggers a widespread immune response. The body's normal immune response to infection can sometimes become overactive, leading to widespread inflammation, which can cause tissue damage and affect organ function.
Common signs and symptoms include fever, increased heart rate, increased breathing rate, and confusion. There may also be symptoms related to a specific infection, such as a cough with pneumonia, or painful urination with a kidney infection. In the very young, old, and people with a weakened immune system, there may be no symptoms of a specific infection and the body temperature may be low or normal rather than high.
Insufficient blood flow may be evident by low blood pressure, high blood lactate, or low urine output. Septic shock is low blood pressure due to sepsis that does not improve after reasonable amounts of intravenous fluids are given. Treatment for sepsis typically involves antibiotics to treat the underlying infection, as well as supportive care to address the symptoms and prevent complications.