I promised I’d tell you what scary sepsis is, so here I am to learn you about possibly the worst thing that can happen from an infection. *storm clouds cross the sky and hand sanitiser appears in the middle distance*

Sepsis is when your body responds to infection in such a way that it actually causes injury to the tissues and organs. It is a complication of an infection. Sepsis doesn’t discriminate; the primary infection can be anywhere, with anything. Most commonly it’s a bacterial infection in the lung, abdomen, kidney, or urinary tract. And it is bad. Sepsis is generalised, hard to diagnose, rare, and very very fatal. It can happen to anyone, but it is more common in those with pre-existing immune conditions like diabetes, or cancer, or patients who have seen major trauma, like burns. This isn’t having a flu kind of sick, this is Greys Anatomy tubes sticking out crash cart defib kinda sick.

Symptoms of sepsis are increased heart rate, fever, increased breath rate, and confusion. Which are super general symptoms and pretty hard to diagnose, but early diagnosis of sepsis is the key. Sepsis goes up in steps, from sepsis, to severe sepsis, to septic shock (which is caused by low blood pressure), to multi organ dysfunction syndrome. Sepsis has a 30% mortality rate, severe sepsis has a 50% mortality rate, and septic shock – 80%. This some serious shit.

Treatment involves admission into the ICU, antibiotics, IV fluids, and sometimes various aspects of life support for organs that are failing e.g. dialysis for failing kidneys, mechanical ventilation for failing lungs.


I know someone who got sepsis. The above chart indicates how many organ systems have failed and on what day of illness, and those correlate to a mortality rate. The person I know who got sepsis was one of my lecturers, and he was off the scale on both ends of this chart. He didn’t die though (obviously), luck was on his side that day. And good medicine.

I don’t want you to be scared of sepsis and think you have it every time you get a cold, but it is important for people to know about it so that they can recognise the symptoms and get admitted quicker. As is clear from the above chart, the earlier the illness is caught, the better the chances are of recovery. So now you know what to look out for!

Keeping in the ~body responds inappropriately to infection~ vein, I’m gonna chat to you next about toxic shock syndrome! Stay tuned and GET LEARNED!



One thought on “Train to Infection Town, Next Stop: Sepsis Station

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