Treatment

Early, aggressive treatment boosts your chances of surviving sepsis. People with severe sepsis require close monitoring and treatment in a hospital intensive care unit. If you have severe sepsis or septic shock, lifesaving measures may be needed to stabilize breathing and heart function.

Medications

A number of medications are used in treating sepsis. They include:

  • Antibiotics. Treatment with antibiotics should begin immediately, within the first six hours or earlier. Initially you'll receive broad-spectrum antibiotics, which are effective against a variety of bacteria. The antibiotics are administered intravenously (IV).

    After learning the results of blood tests, your doctor may switch to a different antibiotic that's more appropriate against the particular bacteria causing the infection.

  • Vasopressors. If your blood pressure remains too low even after receiving intravenous fluids, you may be given a vasopressor medication, which constricts blood vessels and helps to increase blood pressure.

Other medications you may receive include low doses of corticosteroids, insulin to help maintain stable blood sugar levels, drugs that modify the immune system responses, and painkillers or sedatives.

Supportive care

People with severe sepsis usually receive supportive care including oxygen and large amounts of intravenous fluids. Depending on your condition, you may need to have a machine help you breathe or another to provide dialysis for kidney failure.

Surgery

Surgery may be needed to remove sources of infection, such as collections of pus (abscesses).

Jan. 15, 2016
References
  1. Longo DL, et al., eds. Severe sepsis and septic shock. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 19th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2015. http://accessmedicine.com. Accessed Nov. 23, 2015.
  2. AskMayoExpert. Sepsis, severe sepsis, and septic shock. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2012.
  3. Schmidt GA, et al. Evaluation and management of severe sepsis and septic shock in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 23, 2015.
  4. Neviere R. Sepsis and the systemic inflammatory response syndrome: Definitions, epidemiology, and prognosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 23, 2015.
  5. Hall JB, et al. Sepsis, severe shock, and septic shock. In: Principles of Critical Care. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2015. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Nov. 23, 2015.
  6. Sepsis and septic shock. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/critical-care-medicine/sepsis-and-septic-shock/sepsis-and-septic-shock. Accessed Nov. 23, 2015.