Sepsis is a condition in which the body shows severe response to bacterial or other infections. The condition mainly affects people with weak immune systems. The following article provides information about the symptoms and treatment options available for this condition.
Sepsis or septicemia is an infection of the blood caused by a certain bacteria or virus. The response given by the body is known as systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS). It is a life-threatening condition with a high mortality rate. It mainly affects people with weakened or compromised immune system. Cancer and AIDS patients often fall prey to this infection, due to the weak immune system. Children are also susceptible to this infection owing to an underdeveloped immune system. Likewise, elderly people who often have to battle various medical ailments are also prone to this condition.
It is caused due to bacteria, viruses, or similar pathogens. The pathogen enters the bloodstream through open cuts and wounds, that is why this infection is so common post surgeries. It is characterized by inflammation of the entire body, which results from excessive and abnormal reaction to a foreign body. The response can be in response to a microorganism or the toxins secreted by it. In some cases, it may result as an aftermath of meningitis. In fact, this infection after a bout of meningitis is so common, that about one-fourth of the people treated for septicemia are former meningitis patients.
Elderly people with other immune disorders are also at a high risk of developing septicemia. The most important symptom of this infection is body inflammation. Abnormal body temperatures such as, very high or very low temperatures are also a common symptom of septicemia. Some other signs of this blood infection in elderly are:
- Rapid heart rate
- Breathing difficulty
- Joint pain
- Abnormal WBC count
- Low blood pressure
- Skin rash
If any of these symptoms are observed in anyone, then a thorough diagnosis is done. Blood test and culture analysis are some of the diagnostic procedures recommended in such cases.
If the condition is diagnosed in a patient, then a course of antibiotic is suggested as a first line of defense against the infection. Saline solution is also given intravenously to elevate the blood pressure of the affected individual. As the infection often leads to organ failure, precautions are taken to avoid such a situations. Those with a kidney damage need to be kept on dialysis. Draining the pus is yet another step in the treatment of this infection.
As aforementioned, the infection has a very high mortality rate. However, prognosis primarily depends upon the severity of the infection and the general health of the patient. For instance, severe form of sepsis infection called septic shock has the worst survival rate of 40% – 60%. An existing medical illness can also deteriorate the chances of making a quick recovery. It can also prove fatal in some cases. Elderly people who have underlying medical illness but show no sign of organ failure at the time of sepsis diagnosis have 15% – 30% chances of making it. Healthy individuals with no existing medical illness and no sign of organ failure have the lowest mortality rate.
It can be avoided by taking proper care post surgery or during any illness. Contamination can be avoided in healthy individuals by maintaining proper hygiene. If you fall in any of the risk groups mentioned above, then proper care should be taken to protect yourself from sepsis infection. In case you notice any of the above symptoms, see your health care provider as early as possible.