Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection. Sepsis occurs when chemicals released into the bloodstream to fight the infection trigger inflammatory responses throughout the body. This inflammation can trigger a cascade of changes that can damage multiple organ systems, causing them to fail.
If sepsis progresses to septic shock, blood pressure drops dramatically, which may lead to death.
Anyone can develop sepsis, but it's most common and most dangerous in older adults or those with weakened immune systems. Early treatment of sepsis, usually with antibiotics and large amounts of intravenous fluids, improves chances for survival.
July 23, 2014
- Maloney PJ. Sepsis and septic shock. Emergency Medicine Clinics of North America. 2013;31:583.
- McKean SC, et al. Principles and Practice of Hospital Medicine. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=749. Accessed May 27, 2014.
- Tintinalli JE, et al. Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=40. Accessed May 27, 2014.
- Neviere R. Sepsis and the systemic inflammatory response syndrome: Definitions, epidemiology, and prognosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 28, 2014.
- Angus DC, et al. Severe sepsis and septic shock. New England Journal of Medicine. 2013;369:840.
- Mandell GL, et al. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2010. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 27, 2014.