Sepsis is a very serious condition. It
happens when your body responds with widespread inflammation to a bad infection, or to
bacteria in your bloodstream (bacteremia). Sepsis can be deadly. Blood pressure may drop.
The lungs and kidneys may start to fail. Sepsis is a medical emergency. Call 911
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
- People with long-term (chronic) lung, kidney, or heart
People with a very severe
infection such as pneumonia, meningitis, or a urinary tract infection
When to call 911
Sepsis is a medical emergency. Call 911
right away if you have a fever with any of these symptoms:
Chills and shaking
Fast heartbeat and
Severe nausea or uncontrolled vomiting
Confusion, disorientation, drowsiness, or dizziness
Severe pain, including in the back or joints
What to expect in the emergency
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 to 48 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 IV (intravenous) fluids. Depending on the person's physical condition and health
history, they may be admitted right to the intensive care unit (ICU).
Online Medical Reviewer: Barry Zingman MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed:
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