Sepsis is when germs (bacteria) get into your bloodstream and trigger a serious body-wide reaction. When sepsis is severe, one or more of your organs may shut down. For example, your kidneys may stop making urine or your lungs may stop bringing in oxygen.
Septic shock is the most dangerous kind of sepsis. You have very low blood pressure (shock), and many of your organs shut down. Septic shock can be fatal.
Sepsis is usually caused by a bacterial infection. The infection can start in any part of your body, including your:
Sometimes, the bacteria get in through an IV catheter used to give fluids and medicine.
If the infection spreads to your bloodstream and causes your body to react, you have sepsis.
The most dangerous kinds of bacteria that cause sepsis are usually found in hospitals.
At first, sepsis can be hard to diagnose. Doctors can tell you have sepsis based on your symptoms and by doing blood tests to look for bacteria. They will also do blood tests to see how your organs are working. If it's not clear where the infection came from, they may also do imaging tests:
Doctors treat sepsis in the hospital right away with antibiotics and fluids given through a vein (IV) . If you have septic shock, doctors may also:
If you have sepsis, the chances of getting better and avoiding severe sepsis and septic shock are higher the earlier you get treatment. Doctors follow detailed routines to give the right treatment as fast as possible.