Characterized by a fatal drop in blood pressure, septic shock is a life-threatening condition that affects the functioning of vital organs. Go through this article for some information about its treatment.
Septic shock is a fatal condition that requires immediate medical attention. It is preceded by sepsis (whole body inflammation), which is one of the complications associated with severe bacterial infections. Fungi and viruses also cause infections in the human body, but sepsis is mainly associated with bacterial infections.
When an infection that affects a particular organ, becomes severe; and spread to the bloodstream and other organs, the whole body gets swollen. This condition is called sepsis, which may also cause high or low body temperature and vomiting. If sepsis is not treated immediately, it may result in septic shock, which is a life-threatening condition. So, treatment must be provided at the earliest, to avoid complications.
What is Septic Shock?
Sometimes, a severe bacterial infection spreads to the whole body through the bloodstream, causing sepsis; which is characterized by whole body inflammation and other symptoms. The immune system may overreact and cause this condition, which can also be caused by the toxins released by bacteria. Severe sepsis leads to the condition known as septic shock, where the blood pressure of the person becomes considerably low, leading to multiple organ failure.
There are various theories behind the occurrence of sepsis and septic shock. According to some studies, the immune system secretes some substances to fight the spreading infection, but these substances dilate the blood vessels, and cause a dip in normal blood pressure. The blood flow to the organs reduces and this results in organ failure. It is also said that the response of the immune system results in formation of blood clots in the blood vessels. These blood clots block passage of blood to the organs, leading to organ failure. Another contention is that, as the infection affects the organs, the tissues in the organs get damaged due to the toxins released by the bacteria. This eventually leads to organ failure. It can either be due to one of the reasons mentioned above, or a combination of all. The symptoms of septic shock include dizziness, rapid heartbeat, joint pain, lethargy, chills, high or low body temperature, and confusion. Studies show that children, old people, and those with a weak immune system, are prone to this condition, which has a mortality rate of 50%.
How is it Treated
Some medical conditions and medical procedures are considered as risk factors for sepsis and septic shock. They are diabetes, lymphoma, recent surgery or any other invasive medical procedure, use of steroids, long-term use of antibiotics, diseases that weaken the immune system (like HIV/AIDS), and diseases that affect the genital, urinary, and digestive system. The condition is diagnosed with blood tests that show infection, level of oxygen in blood, and organ failure. X-rays and CT-scans may also be conducted to get an accurate view of the condition.
As it is a medical emergency, septic shock treatment is mainly concentrated on supporting the failing organs. The patient is put on a ventilator for breathing support. Intravenous drugs are administered to lower the infection, stabilize the blood pressure, and to treat blood clots. The body is infused with fluids to raise the blood pressure, and sometimes dialysis is also performed. Sometimes, treatment includes surgery to remove the dead tissues or to drain abscesses.
Being a life-threatening condition, imminent medical attention is necessary. The mortality rate depends on the type and spread of infection, degree of organ failure, and how early the treatment is started.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.