An Overview on Blood Infection: Just How Fatal is Sepsis?
A couple of years ago, a friend’s mother died of sepsis. She just had surgery–a complicated procedure called Whipple surgery–to remove a tumor near her pancreas. Unfortunately, there were complications, one of which was diabetes. The complications piled up one after another until it eventually led to blood infection or what is known as sepsis. Since I had zero medical knowledge on diseases, I decided to look it up and discovered just how dangerous a medical condition it was.
Differentiating between Sepsis and Septic Shock
As I mentioned before, my medical knowledge is nil so I had difficulty comprehending between what is sepsis and what is septic shock. For those who want to know more about these conditions, sepsis is a condition in which infection triggers your body’s overwhelming immune response. The body’s instinct would be to release chemicals into the blood in order to fight off infection. However, this in turn can also trigger widespread inflammation. The chain reaction continues when this inflammation–may or may not–result in organ damage. Blood clots during sepsis will reduce the blood flow not only to your limbs but also your internal organs, thereby depriving them of much-needed nutrients and oxygen.
In severe cases of sepsis, one or more organs can fail. The worst case scenario is when infection causes a life-threatening drop in your blood pressure, which is called septic shock. Septic shock can rapidly lead to multiple organ failure–through the lungs, kidney, and liver–and then death.
What Causes Sepsis and Other Risk Factors
Bacterial infection is among the most common causes of sepsis. This is not to say that it can’t be caused by other infections. It’s possible for infection to begin anywhere whether bacteria or through other infectious agents that will find their way inside the body. Even a seemingly harmless injury like a scraped knee or even a nicked cuticle can result in sepsis. Appendicitis, pneumonia, urinary tract infection and other serious medical problems can also lead to blood infection.
Osteomyelitis or what is also known as infection of the bone, may be accompanied by sepsis. For hospitalized patients, the common sites where infection can start range from IV lines to urinary catheters and surgical incisions to bed sores. One way of eliminating or at least minimizing the risk of infection passing through the bloodstream is using iv access ports that will passively disinfect and prevent the spread of contamination.
People at Risk
Although almost anyone can acquire sepsis, some people are at a much greater risk of getting it. Those people who are more at risk include those whose immune systems have been compromised due to illnesses like HIV/AIDS and cancer. Using drugs that help suppress your immune system–this is usually the case of patients who need to have transplanted organs–are also at risk. The elderly (particularly those with existing health problems) and also very young babies have weaker immune systems so they are more vulnerable. People with diabetes and those individuals who have undergone invasive medical procedures, also face a higher risk of acquiring sepsis.
About the Author
Based in San Diego California, Tiffany Matthews is a professional writer with over 5 years of writing experience. She also blogs about travel, fashion, and anything under the sun at wordbaristas.com, a group blog that she shares with her good friends. In her free time, she likes to travel, read books, and watch movies. You can find her on Twitter as @TiffyCat87.