Sepsis: Symptoms and Causes

November 19, 2023

Sepsis: Symptoms and Causes
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What is Sepsis?

Sepsis is the situation when the organism reacts to the infection in excessive amounts and poses a threat for the patient’s life. This happens, because septicemia is a type of sepsis, where the bacteria causing initial infection spread in blood and throughout the body. This will result into a string of occurrences leading to organs complications, resulting to organ failures, and in very severe cases could be fatal. Septicemia should always be recognized in its infancy, so that treatment can commence early enough in order to boost recovery. This is a dangerous condition that can be fatal if only proper measures were taken at the right time.

Table of Contents

  • What is Sepsis?
  • What are the three stages of sepsis?
  • Sepsis Causes and Symptoms 
  • Diagnosis of sepsis 
  • Sepsis Management and Treatment
  • Conclusion
  • Frequently Asked Questions

What are the three stages of sepsis?

  1. Sepsis:

The septic shock itself is the first phase. This is a stage whereby the body identifies an infection and produces chemical substances that destroy it. Nevertheless, these chemicals elicit systemic inflammation, with the subsequent chain of events possibly causing damage to essential organs. Sepsis manifests as severe fever, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and a sense of being gravely ill. Detecting at this early stage and treating promptly is important because, without timely intervention, it can lead to further development of CVD and other health complications.

  1. Severe Sepsis:

Sepsis can degenerate to severe sepsis if left untreated. At this point, the condition deteriorates, and the patient loses function in different organs. Blood pressure decreases considerably, affecting blood circulation to essential organs. Organs like the heart, kidneys, and lungs may fail to function normally. The symptoms may include reduced urinary output, difficulty breathing, and mental confusion on set patients. Immediate attention is needed since it will stabilise the patient’s condition and prevent other problems.

  1. Septic Shock:

The last one, and the most serious, is septic shock. In that condition, there is a great decline of blood pressure, leading to the failure of various organs like hearts and others. In this case, the body reacts to the infection to such an extent that it develops the situation, leading to a lifeless condition. This manifests as an abrupt decline in blood pressure with changes in mentation that may result in unconsciousness. It is crucial for the patients to receive intensive care and to have the most aggravated assistance methods, such as intravenous fluids, including medication, to ensure the work of the fading organs and increase the chances of survival.

Sepsis Causes and Symptoms 

  1. Early Signs of Sepsis:

Sepsis is a fatal infection-related disease.  It needs early recognition of its symptoms for prompt medication to be applied in time. Pay close attention to signs like high temperature, chilly sensation, increased rate of heart beat, and difficulty in breathing. These are non-specific symptoms and may even be the early signs of sepsis.

  1. Altered Mental State:

Confusion or an altered mental status can indicate sepsis of the brain.ҽ9 Confusion and drowsiness suddenly with insufficient energy can mean sepsis. You should seek immediate medical assistance if such symptoms occur.

  1. Hypotension (Low Blood Pressure):

Sepsis can have such a drastic expression as a drop in blood pressure. The body reacts to disruptions of normal blood vessel functions caused by an infectious disease in this phase. The organism can fail due to persistent low blood pressure. In case you start feeling weak, lightheaded, dizzy with drop in blood pressure, it is emergency that requires immediate medical help.

  1. Elevated Heart Rate:

Tachycardia (unusual increase in the pulse) is the standard presentation for sepsis. An accelerated pulse may result when the body tries to fight the infection and the heart works hard. Keep in mind of fast and frequent heartbeats along with others such as fever and low blood pressure.

  1. Respiratory Distress:

Difficulty breathing is also common, as it may affect the respiratory system when a patient has sepsis. Sepsis may affect your lungs as shown by rapid, shallow breathing and/or shortness of breath (cannot catch one’s breath). This sign must be treated on time as it can lead to other more severe problems.

The causes of sepsis are as follows: 

  1. Bacterial Infections:

Sepsis often stems from untreated bacterial infections, such as urinary tract infections (UTIs) or pneumonia. These pathogens can infiltrate the bloodstream, triggering a systemic response.

  1. Wound Infections:

Inadequately treated wounds, whether from surgery or injuries, can become a breeding ground for bacteria. When these infections spread, they may lead to sepsis.

  1. Weak Immune System:

Individuals with compromised immune systems are at a higher risk of developing sepsis. Conditions like HIV, cancer, or undergoing immunosuppressive therapies can weaken the body’s defenses.

  1. Medical Procedures:

Specific medical treatments, like catheter insertions or invasive surgeries, pose an infection risk. If proper hygiene protocols are not followed, bacteria can enter the bloodstream.

  1. Respiratory Infections:

Severe respiratory infections, such as severe influenza or lung infections, can contribute to sepsis. Infection-induced inflammation can quickly spread throughout the body.

  1. Gastrointestinal Infections:

Infections in the digestive tract, such as peritonitis or severe cases of food poisoning, can introduce harmful bacteria into the bloodstream, triggering sepsis.

Diagnosis of sepsis 

Recognizing the Signs:

  • Symptoms like fever, tachycardia and altered mentality.
  • The awareness of the possible infection avenues such as the respiratory and the urinary tract.

Clinical Evaluation:

  • Physical exams should be highly extensive, since any indication of an oncoming septicaemia must be noted at such a stage.
  • Using blood tests to determine white blood cell count, and other biomarkers.

Role of Imaging Studies:

  • The usage of diagnostic imaging such as X-rays and CT scans to locate the site of infection in an individual’s body.
  • A key factor towards the development of septicaemia is organ dysfunction – monitoring for this.

Laboratory Tests and Cultures:

  • Identification of the particular bacteria causing the infection by collecting blood cultures.
  • Measuring the severity of sepsis using results from lab test analysis especially lactate levels.

Swift Intervention:

  • The need for early diagnosis towards efficient treatment.
  • Ensuring that there is proper collaboration between healthcare professionals to make a prompt and correct diagnosis.

Technological Advances:

  • The development of new sepsis diagnostic techniques like biomarker assays and molecular diagnostics is an emerging trend.
  • Artificial intelligence and early predicted sepsis among high risk patients.

It is essential to keep abreast with diagnostic developments in the intricate terrain of sepsis evaluation to enhance care outcomes and patient survival rates. The fight against septicaemia is also enhanced by regular training for health care workers and incorporating of new technologies.

Sepsis Management and Treatment

  • Early detection and diagnosis:

Septicemia should be timely identified. New diagnostic methods are being developed to quickly diagnose infections. Swift and accurate diagnoses are achieved by analyzing blood cultures, using biomarkers, and applying innovative imagery techniques for quick responses.

  • Antibiotic Therapy:

Prompt administration of appropriate antibiotics is, therefore, the cornerstone for successful treatment of sepsis. Today’s advancements in microbiology and pharmacology also resulted to the production of specialized anti-microbial agents with an improvement in their potency on specific causative organisms of sepsis.

  • Supportive Care and Monitoring:

Septicemia patients also often need very careful supportive therapy. These include fluid resuscitation, organ support, and constant monitoring. Real-time monitoring technologies among others improve speed of care by enabling quick response from the health care providers in response to changes that are arising.

  • Immunotherapy and Research:

Newer researches are being done on improving the normal defences of the body against sepsis through immunotherapy. The purpose of immunomodulatory drugs is to minimize this hyperactivity that could prove detrimental.


As a final note, sepsis is a medical emergency that should be detected immediately and treated with urgency. The understanding of three stages of sepsis, recognition of initial sign, and treatment of a trigger is very important for adequate management. The early diagnosis utilizing novel approaches, antibiotics’ administration, and extensive supportive management are crucial in enhancing the patients’ outcome. Current studies on immunotherapy might give hope in finding some ways of protecting one’s body from sepsis. The continuous battle towards this powerful enemy necessitates vigilance, teamwork amongst healthcare providers, and keeping up with diagnostic developments. When it comes to sepsis, which can be described as a race against time, it becomes apparent that detection in an early stage remains to be crucial for saving the lives of people.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the 3 common causes of sepsis?

Bacterial infections usually lead to sepsis which originates from pneumonia, urinary septicemia and other abdominal septicemias. Other sources include bacterial skin infections, and also septicaemia. Early detection and treatment of the underlying infection is essential towards preventing sepsis.

2. Does sepsis come on suddenly?

Yes, sepsis can actually develop quite quickly. It is characterized by high fever, rapid pulse, pulmonary edema and hypotension among others. With sudden appearance these symptoms should be a call for an urgent treatment.

3. Is sepsis treatable?

Prompt treatment of sepsis is very important as it can be treated. Such treatment is conducted by using antibiotics against infectious bacteria and fluids that maintain normal blood system pressure. Depending on severity, admission to the hospital is mandatory, while patients may require support for organ functioning in the ICU. Early diagnosis and treatment provide higher chances of survival.

Disclaimer: We recommend consulting a Doctor before taking any action based on the above shared information.



Anaesthesia & Critical Care

Anaesthesia & Critical Care

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