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Sepsis (septic shock)

Sepsis is an extreme immune system response to an infection that has spread throughout the blood and tissues. Severe sepsis 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.

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

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

Author Monica Rhodes
Editor Kathleen M. Ariss, MS
Associate Editor Pat Truman, MATC
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Avery L. Seifert, MD - Urology
Last Updated June 8, 2009

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 08, 2009
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.