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More Than an Infection: The Dangers of Sepsis

By Kate Gardner

Sepsis is no joke. The Centers for Disease Control define it as "the body's extreme response to an infection" that strikes more than 1.5 million Americans each year. Sepsis is often life-threatening, especially if not quickly treated, and is responsible for more than 250,000 deaths in America annually. Sepsis happens more often in people over 65, pregnant women, and children under the age of 1, but can occur in anyone of any age. 

How It Works

According to, any kind of infection (viral, bacterial, or fungal) can lead to sepsis. It is most commonly caused by pneumonia, infections of the digestive system, infections of the urinary system (including kidneys and bladder), and infections of the blood. Typically, our bodies fight off these infections with no trouble by releasing special immune chemicals. But sometimes our bodies don't handle these chemicals as well as they should, resulting in widespread inflammation and organ damage. 

Signs and Symptoms

It may be hard to predict who will develop sepsis, but it is important to be aware of the common signs and symptoms and watch for them in people with a known or probable infection or people who have been in the hospital recently. These signs are:  

  • Fast heart rate
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Systolic (upper number) blood pressure reading of less than or equal to 100

Septic Shock

Sepsis itself is dangerous, but it becomes even more so when it progresses to septic shock. Septic shock is fatal about 40 percent of the time. tells us the signs of septic shock include: 

  • Very low blood pressure 
  • A very high or very low temperature
  • Producing little or no urine
  • Decreased mental status
  • Changes in skin color
  • Palpitations or a rapid heart rate
  • Lightheadedness
  • Cold, pale arms and legs


Sepsis and septic shock need to be treated in a hospital. Several different kinds of medication are used. Antibiotics are prescribed to help the body fight any bacterial infections. Vasopressors (medications that constrict blood vessels) will be used to help raise dangerously low blood pressure. Intravenous fluids will also be given to help fight the damage caused by sepsis. Other medications may be given as well. 

If you have an infection or have recently been in the hospital and you are experiencing the symptoms of sepsis, it is important to contact your healthcare provider. 

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, visit your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Coppell, Tex. 

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