Skip to content

Information and Resources

Sepsis (Blood Infection) and Septic Shock

Font Size
A
A
A

Sepsis Treatment

The first step to successful treatment for sepsis is quick diagnosis. If sepsis is suspected, the doctor will perform an exam and run tests to look for:

  • Bacteria in the blood or other body fluids
  • Source of the infection, using imaging technology such as X-ray, CT scan, or ultrasound
  • A high or low white blood cell count
  • A low platelet count
  • Low blood pressure
  • Too much acid in the blood (acidosis)
  • Altered kidney or liver function 

Other tests of bodily fluids and radiologic tests, such as X-ray or CT scan, can help in diagnosing the cause of the infection. People diagnosed with severe sepsis are usually placed in the intensive care unit (ICU), where doctors try to stop the infection, keep vital organs functioning, and regulate blood pressure.

Sepsis treatment usually begins with:

  • Broad-spectrum antibiotics, which kill many types of bacteria
  • IV fluids to maintain blood pressure
  • Oxygen to maintain normal blood oxygen

Once the infectious agent is identified, the doctor can switch to a drug that targets that particular agent. Depending on the severity and effects of sepsis, other types of treatment, such as a breathing machine or kidney dialysis, may be needed. Sometimes surgery is necessary to drain or clean an infection.

Often doctors prescribe other treatments, including vasopressors (drugs that cause the blood vessels to narrow) to improve blood pressure.

Permanent organ damage can occur in people who survive sepsis. Death rates are 20% for sepsis and over 60% for septic shock.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on December 16, 2012
1 | 2

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

feet
Solutions for 19 types.
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
pregnancy test and calendar
Helping you get pregnant.
man rubbing painful knee
A visual guide.
lone star tick
How to identify that bite.
woman standing behind curtains
How it affects you.
brain scan with soda
Tips to avoid complications.
row of colored highlighter pens
Tips for living better.
human lungs
Symptoms, causes, treatments.
woman dreaming
What Do Your Dreams Say About You?
two male hands
Test your knowledge.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.