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- Patient Comments: Sepsis - Symptoms
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- Sepsis (blood poisoning) facts
- What is blood poisoning?
- What is sepsis?
- What are the stages of sepsis?
- Why are there so many diseases with "sepsis," "septic," "septicemia," or "blood poisoning" in their name?
- What causes sepsis?
- Is sepsis contagious? How long is the incubation and/or contagious period for sepsis?
- What are the risk factors for sepsis?
- What are sepsis (blood poisoning) symptoms and signs?
- How do health care professionals diagnose sepsis?
- What is the treatment for sepsis?
- What types of health care professionals specialize in the treatment of sepsis?
- What is the prognosis with sepsis?
- What are the complications of sepsis?
- Is it possible to prevent sepsis (blood poisoning)?
- What are some additional sources for information on sepsis (blood poisoning)?
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What are the stages of sepsis?
Some medical researchers consider sepsis to have three stages. The first stage is the least severe and usually has symptoms of fever and an increased heart rate. The second stage is more severe and is characterized by symptoms of difficulty breathing and possible organ malfunctions, while the third is the most severe stage (septic shock or severe sepsis) with life-threatening low blood pressure. Not all researchers agree with these stages; some researchers choose not to consider sepsis in stages.
Why are there so many diseases with "sepsis," "septic," "septicemia," or "blood poisoning" in their name?
Unfortunately, both medical personnel and laypeople have used these terms interchangeably and then linked them to either a particular organism (usually bacterial and often labeled according to the general bacterial type such as gram-negative or -positive) that can cause sepsis, to a site in the body in which an infection originates that leads to sepsis, or to a clinical situation that leads to sepsis as described above. For example, gram-negative meningococcal sepsis, meningococcal septicemia, septic meningitis, and meningococcal blood poisoning can refer to the same entity, an infection of the patient by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis that has spread from the meninges (brain membranes) to the bloodstream, resulting in the patient having at least two of the four criteria outlined above for sepsis. Common examples of a clinical situation used in the same way are puerperal sepsis, puerperal septicemia, puerperal or childbirth blood poisoning, and maternal septicemia postpartum. All four terms represent infection that occurs during the puerperium (time around the delivery of a baby) that leads to sepsis criteria for the patient. The infectious agent is not described when the body site or situation is linked to "sepsis" or the other terms. The following is a short partial list of both organism and organ system (and organ-related) terms that are seen in both the lay and medical literature:
- MRSA sepsis: sepsis caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria
- VRE sepsis: sepsis caused by vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus species of bacteria
- Urosepsis: sepsis originating from a urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Wound sepsis: sepsis originating from an infection of a wound
- Neonatal sepsis or septicemia: sepsis seen in newborns, usually in the first four weeks after birth; sepsis neonatorum means the same as neonatal sepsis
- Septic abortion: an abortion due to infection with sepsis in the mother
There are many more examples of linking terms to sepsis (for example, AIDS, tattoo, spider bite). Occasionally, terms like hemorrhagic septicemia are used to describe a symptom (internal bleeding) or a sign like neutropenic cells (low number of white blood cells) that may occur with sepsis. The trend in medicine currently is to decrease the use of the terms septicemia and blood poisoning in favor of the terms sepsis or septic, because sepsis is defined most concisely.