The infection is often confirmed by a blood test. However, a blood test may not reveal infection in people who have been receiving antibiotics. Some infections that can cause sepsis cannot be diagnosed by blood tests.
If you have sepsis, you will be admitted to a hospital, usually in the intensive care unit (ICU). Antibiotics are usually given through a vein (intravenously).
Oxygen and large amounts of fluids are given through a vein. Other medical treatments include:
Medications that increase blood pressure
Dialysis if there is kidney failure
A breathing machine (mechanical ventilation) if there is lung failure
Sepsis is often life threatening, especially in people with a weakened immune system or a long-term (chronic) illness.
Damage caused by a drop in blood flow to vital organs such as the brain, heart, and kidneys may take time to improve. There may be long-term problems with these organs.
Not all patients survive an episode of sepsis.
The risk of sepsis can be reduced by following the recommended immunization schedule.
In the hospital, careful hand washing and proper care of urinary catheters and IV lines can help prevent infections that lead to sepsis.
Russell JA. Shock syndromes related to sepsis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 108.
Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.