What Is Sepsis? What to Know if You Are at Risk or Receive a Diagnosis
Everyone may develop an infection at some point in life. But while many infections are cleared up by our immune system or with help from medication, others can progress to a life-threatening condition known as sepsis.
What Is Sepsis?
Sepsis is a potentially deadly complication of an infection. (1) Because it can happen to anyone, it’s important that you know how to recognize symptoms of this condition early.
The immune system is a powerful defense mechanism capable of fighting off different types of bacteria, viruses, and fungi that may cause infection. With a combination of your hardworking immune system and antibiotics, antivirals, or antifungals, the body can heal and become stronger after an illness. But sometimes the immune system doesn’t react properly to a disease in the body. (2)
Sepsis is best described as “an extreme immune system response to an infection.” (3)
More on Infections and Their Health Risks
When you’re sick, your immune system signals the release of chemicals that increase inflammation and help stop the spread of viruses, bacteria, or fungi. In the case of sepsis, the immune system’s inflammatory response to an infection is dysregulated. This causes widespread inflammation throughout the body. This type of inflammation is dangerous because it can lead to poor blood flow and blood clots. (4)
Sepsis can also lead to organ failure and death. Organs that could fail include: (3)
Sepsis can progress quickly, so it’s vital to spot signs of this condition and get medical help. You can’t treat sepsis at home. It requires treatment in an intensive care unit (ICU).
Video: Influenza and Sepsis: Mayo Expert Describes Warning Signs of Severe Sepsis, Septic Shock
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