Sepsis happens when your body responds with widespread inflammation to a bad infection or bacteremia—the presence of bacteria in your bloodstream. Sepsis can be deadly. Blood pressure may drop and the lungs and kidneys may start to fail. Emergency care for sepsis is crucial.
Those most at risk for sepsis are:
Infants or older adults
People who have an illness that weakens their immune system, such as cancer, AIDS, or diabetes
People being treated with chemotherapy medicines or radiation, which weakens the immune system
People who have had a transplant
People with a very severe infection such as pneumonia, meningitis, or a urinary tract infection
Sepsis is an emergency. Go to the nearest ED if you have a fever with any of these symptoms:
Chills and shaking
Rapid heartbeat and breathing
Severe nausea or uncontrolled vomiting
Confusion, disorientation, drowsiness, or dizziness
Severe pain, including in the back or joints
Blood and urine tests are done to look for bacteria. They also check for organ failure.
Blood, urine, or sputum cultures may be taken. The samples are sent to a lab. They are placed in a special container. Any bacteria should grow in 24 hours.
X-rays or other imaging tests may be done.
A person with sepsis will be admitted to the hospital and treated with antibiotics. Treatment may also include oxygen and intravenous fluids.
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