Sepsis develops when an existing infection triggers an extreme immune system response in your body. It is a life-threatening medical emergency.When you experience an infection, your immune system responds by releasing proteins and other chemicals to fight it. Sepsis occurs when this response gets out of control, triggering extensive inflammation.
There are three stages of sepsis –
An infection gets into your bloodstream and causes inflammation in your body.
• Severe sepsis.
The infection and inflammation is severe enough to start affecting organ function.
• Septic shock.
Septic shock is a severe complication of sepsis that causes a significant drop in blood pressure. This can lead to many serious complications including –
▪︎ organ dysfunction
▪︎ respiratory or heart failure
▪︎ possible death
Anyone with an infection who develops the following sepsis symptoms needs urgent medical attention –
• a fever, chills, and shivering
• a rapid pulse, also known as tachycardia
• difficulty breathing
• clammy or sweaty skin
• extreme pain or discomfort
• redness and swelling around a wound
When sepsis is severe, it can also cause –
• low blood pressure
• dizziness or faintness
• low urine volume
• pale, discolored, or mottled skin
• skin that feels unusually warm or cold, as with a fever
• cool, pale skin at the extremities
• confusion, reduced alertness, and other changes in the person’s mental state
• a feeling of doom or sudden fear of death
• slurred speech
• diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
• severe pain and extreme general discomfort
• shortness of breath
• loss of consciousness
As sepsis progresses, septic shock can occur. This involves blood pressure falling dangerously low, meaning that oxygen can no longer reach the body’s organs.
While any type of infection — bacterial, viral or fungal — can lead to sepsis, infections that more commonly result in sepsis include infections of –
• The abdomen: An infection of the appendix (appendicitis), bowel problems, infection of the abdominal cavity (peritonitis), and gallbladder or liver infections.
• The central nervous system: Infections of the brain or the spinal cord.
• The lungs: Infections such as pneumonia.
• The skin: Bacteria can enter skin through wounds or skin inflammation, or through the openings made with intravenous (IV) catheters (tubes inserted into the body to give or drain fluids). Conditions such as cellulitis (inflammation of the skin’s connective tissue) can also cause sepsis.
• The urinary tract (kidneys or bladder): Urinary tract infections are especially likely if the patient has a urinary catheter to drain urine.
Risk Factors –
Several factors increase the risk of sepsis, including –
• Older age
• Compromised immune system, including people with HIV or those undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer
• Chronic kidney or liver disease
• Admission to intensive care unit or longer hospital stays
• Invasive devices, such as intravenous catheters or breathing tubes
• Previous use of antibiotics or corticosteroids
As sepsis gets worse, it causes more problems throughout your body. These may include –
• Kidney failure
• Dead tissue (gangrene) on fingers and toes, leading to amputation
• Lung, brain, or heart damage
• A higher risk of infections over time
Sepsis can be deadly in between 25% and 40% of cases.
A person may have sepsis if he or she has –
• A high or low white blood cell count
• A low platelet count
• A lack of oxygen in your blood
• Problems with how your blood clots
• Uneven levels of electrolytes
• Acidosis (too much acid in the blood)
• A blood culture that is positive for infection
• Abnormal kidney or liver function
• Signs of infection on an X-ray, CT scan, or ultrasound
A doctor will provide rapid treatment for sepsis, including –
• treating the cause of the infection
• administering antibiotics, if the infection is bacterial
• providing oxygen and intravenous fluids to ensure blood flow to the organs
• providing a means of assisted breathing, if appropriate
• scheduling surgery, if necessary, to remove damaged tissue
Sepsis often requires treatment in a hospital, and some people need intensive care.
Ayurvedic Perspective –
Tridoshas (vata, pitta and kapha – the three basic functional factors of the body) are responsible to sustain the life in their homeostatic state according to Ayurveda. Vitiation of these tridoshas (the abnormal physiological state) is considered as pathology and no diseases can be occurred without the vitiation of vata, pitta and kapha either in singly (ekadoshaja), dually (dvidoshaja) or triply (sannipataja). Sannipata is a state in which quantitative/qualitative changes of tridoshas takes place but the degree of the involvement of each dosha may vary and the nomenclature is made accordingly based on the dominant dosha. Aggravation of tridosha at a same time or in consequence produces a complex phenomenon where the prognosis becomes worst. Sannipata, i.e. conglomeration of vitiated tridoshas is the final stage of manifestation of disease process. In sannipata state of pathogenesis(sepsis) the disease becomes more advance and mostly irreversible.
A wide variety of traditional medicinal plants have reported promising effects towards treatment of sepsis. The proven versatile nature of these plants makes them exclusively useful in disease treatment.
Different parts of plants and their extracts have been identified as potential natural immunomodulators like root of Ashwagandha, Aloe vera leaf juice, ginseng root, chamomile tea, mushroom extract, Nigella sativa oil, Plumbago indica, extract of Isodon serra, extract and juice of Carica papaya leaves, Rhubarb extract, extract of Syzygium jambolanum.
Preventing infection is the best way to prevent sepsis.
Take these steps –
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time.
• Keep up with recommended vaccines for things like flu and chickenpox.
• Keep control of any chronic health conditions.
• If you have an injury that’s broken your skin, clean it as soon as possible. Keep it clean and covered as it heals, and watch for signs of infection.
• Treat any infections. Get medical care right away if they don’t get better or if they seem like they’re getting worse.
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