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Sepsis (Septic Shock)

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Topic Overview

Sepsis is an extreme immune system response to an infection that has spread throughout the blood and tissues. Severe sepsis, also called septic shock, often causes extremely low blood pressure, which limits blood flow to the body and can result in organ failure and death.

Symptoms of sepsis include either fever or low body temperature, rapid breathing, chills and shaking, rapid heartbeat, decreased urine output, and confusion or delirium.

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Bacterial and viral infections have many things in common. Both types of infections are caused by microbes -- bacteria and viruses, respectively -- and spread by things such as: Coughing and sneezing. Contact with infected people, especially through kissing and sex. Contact with contaminated surfaces, food, and water. Contact with infected creatures, including pets, livestock, and insects such as fleas and ticks. Microbes can also cause: Acute infections, which are short-lived...

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Sepsis is most often the result of a bacterial infection, but it can also be caused by other types of infection. Sepsis can occur in people of any age, but it is more common in infants, older adults, and people who have compromised immune systems.

Sepsis is treated with antibiotics, fluids, and medicines to support blood pressure and prevent organ damage.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 13, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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