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Health Information

Sepsis

Summary/Definition 

Sepsis is a disease that occurs as a result of microbial infection and is characterized by systemic dysfunction of key organs caused by the body’s overall response to infection. This is a serious condition in which a microbial infection has a negative impact on various uninfected organs and systems of the body. Urgent and effective treatment is vital, because the disease can quickly worsen and lead to death. About half of all cases of sepsis are caused by pneumonia, followed by intra-abdominal infections, infections of the genitourinary system and soft tissue infections. These infections account for 80-90% of all cases of sepsis. 

Encyclopedia of Diseases of Seoul Asan Hospital, “Sepsis”

Symptoms 

The main signs of sepsis include the following manifestations: an increase in body temperature, accompanied by chills; joint pain, accompanied by a decrease in body temperature; headache; a feeling of weakness; rapid and weakened pulse; rapid breathing. In the case of severe sepsis, symptoms such as impaired consciousness, low blood pressure, decreased urination and a state of shock may occur. It is possible to manifest only some of these symptoms, and in some cases the listed signs may be caused by other causes, not sepsis. 

Diagnostics 

The diagnosis is established during a medical examination, during which body temperature, blood pressure, pulse, respiratory rate, degree of consciousness disturbance, skin condition, and limb sensitivity are assessed. In addition, blood tests are performed to determine the levels of platelets, bilirubin, creatinine, oxygen in arterial blood, lactic acid, procalcitonin and other parameters. Microbiological examination is also carried out, including culture culture of blood and tissue samples with suspected infection, in order to identify the pathogen. To determine the site of infection and its characteristics, additional methods can be used, for example, urine analysis, chest X-ray, computer and magnetic resonance imaging, examination of cerebrospinal fluid. 

Treatment and course of the disease 

In the treatment of sepsis, it is important to identify the pathogen, prescribe appropriate antibiotics, provide oxygen therapy and infusion therapy, as well as, if necessary, apply vasopressors, carry out red blood cell transfusion and use inotropic agents. It is important to promptly identify areas of infection and take appropriate measures to eliminate them. It should be noted that sepsis, although not completely preventable, may be associated with risks that can be reduced. It is important to maintain optimal nutrition by providing a sufficient and balanced diet, as well as to follow infection prevention measures, including vaccination according to age and anamnesis. 

Complications 

Complications of sepsis include brain dysfunction, acute lung injury, acute kidney injury, intestinal obstruction, cardiovascular dysfunction, disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) and liver damage. 

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