Lybrate Logo
Get the App
For Doctors
Consult Online
Book Appointment
Ask a Question
Plan my Surgery
Health Feed
Health Feed
Find Doctors

Sepsis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Cost

Last Updated: Feb 24, 2023

What is sepsis?

Topic Image

Sepsis can be defined as a serious, life-threatening condition that takes place when an infection gives rise to a sequence of reactions (or a chain reaction) across the body. What actually happens is that the chemicals any person's body releases to fight the infection cause inflammation in the blood vessels, which can eventually lead to organ failure or other serious health complications.In other words, this condition is mainly triggered when the human body's natural response to an infection begins to attack and damage its own tissues, which may further result in multiple organ dysfunction and even organ failure (in extreme cases). Particularly, this condition may cause a series of changes that end up damaging various organ systems, often causing them to malfunction and, in extreme cases, leading to death.Apart from that, you should also be aware of the fact that sepsis is a condition that may also progress to septic shock in some cases, which is a severe drop in blood pressure that may bring about organ failure and death. That said, timely treatment with intravenous fluids and antibiotics may increase the chances of a patient's survival.

Types of sepsis

Sepsis is classified into three types or stages, which are as follows:

  • Sepsis: This stage is where an infection enters a person's bloodstream and further induces inflammation in their body.
  • Severe sepsis: The infection spreads to a person's organs and tissues, and they start to experience organ failure.
  • Septic shock: it is the most dangerous stage of sepsis and can cause a considerable drop in a person's blood pressure. Also, it can lead to a number of other serious complications, which include respiratory or heart failure, multiple organ dysfunction, stroke (cardiac arrest), and even death (in some cases).

Furthermore, it's important to remember that sepsis doesn't just occur in hospital settings; in fact, it can occur anywhere. Sometimes, a person might not even realize they have an infection that could lead to any kind or stage of sepsis.

What causes sepsis?

Sepsis is, in most cases, caused by bacteria. However, the condition can also be caused or triggered by fungi, parasites, or viruses. Apart from that, you must know that gram-positive bacteria used to be the primary cause of sepsis before antibiotics were introduced in the mid-20th century.

All in all, sepsis can be caused by any type of infection, whether bacterial, viral, or fungal, but infections that more commonly lead to sepsis include:

  • The lungs, such as pneumonia
  • The kidney, bladder, and other parts of the urinary system
  • The digestive system
  • The bloodstream (bacteremia)
  • Catheter sites
  • Wounds or burns

What are the symptoms of sepsis?

Sepsis signs and symptoms

You may be diagnosed with sepsis if you have a probable or confirmed infection, as well as any of the following signs:

  • A high heart rate
  • A high respiratory rate
  • A high temperature
  • Low blood pressure
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Slurred speech

Someone who has sepsis should be provided with medical help as soon as possible. A doctor or nurse can examine the person and do some tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Severe sepsis signs and symptoms

Severe sepsis is a serious condition that is mainly caused by infection. Further, it must be noted that at least one (or even more) of the signs or symptoms that are mentioned below may be present in someone with severe sepsis:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bluish discoloration of the skin, especially on the lips, fingers, or toes
  • Chills stemming from a significant drop in body temperature
  • Reduced urination
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in mental ability
  • Extreme fatigue (or asthenia)
  • Low platelet count (or thrombocytopenia)
  • Abnormal heart functions
  • Unconsciousness

Sepsis shock signs and symptoms

Sepsis is a serious infection that can quickly get worse. In fact, it can lead to septic shock, which is indeed life-threatening. Some severe sepsis and septic shock symptoms share commonalities, such as severe difficulty breathing, acute confusion, and bluish skin tones. Another primary symptom of septic shock is very low blood pressure.


What are the risk factors associated with sepsis?

Although sepsis can affect anyone, some people are at a higher risk of contracting the infection. Individuals who are particularly vulnerable to this condition include:

  • older adults
  • Children under one year of age
  • Patients with any kind of chronic illness
  • Individuals with weakened immune systems
  • People who are exposed to invasive devices, which may include breathing tubes and intravenous catheters

How can you prevent sepsis?

You can reduce your risk of all kinds of sepsis, including the one triggered by COVID-19, by taking specific steps, such as:

Preventive measures
You must, first of all, speak with your personal doctor or healthcare professional about steps you need to take in order to prevent any infections that may lead to sepsis. Doctors frequently recommend the following preventive measures:

  • Taking care of chronic conditions
  • Obtaining recommended vaccines (it must be noted that vaccines can aid in the prevention of some infections, but they do not cure sepsis)

Good hygiene

  • Some things you can do to practice good hygiene and reduce your risk of infection are:
  • Washing your hands
  • Keeping wounds clean and covered until they heal

Furthermore, you must be aware of the fact that the symptoms and signs of sepsis (formerly known as blood poisoning) can be easily overlooked because they are very similar to a number of other health conditions. That said, some of the most common symptoms of this condition are:

  • High heart rate or weak pulse
  • Shivering, or feeling very cold or feverish
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Extreme discomfort or pain
  • Clammy or sweaty skin

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is imperative that you seek medical attention before doing anything else. Only a doctor or other healthcare professional will be able to tell you whether or not you have sepsis.


Sepsis prevention starts with getting vaccinated against harmful infections. You can also prevent this life-threatening health condition by cleaning your open wounds (if any) and practicing good hygiene, like washing your hands and taking showers on a regular basis. Apart from all that, if you have any kind of infection, you must look closely into it for any signs of sepsis, such as chills and fever.


You may reduce your chances of developing antibiotic-resistant infections (which can also lead to sepsis) by taking antibiotics only when you really need them or when they are unavoidable and never taking someone else's antibiotics.

Sepsis: Diagnosis and Tests

If you are experiencing any symptoms or signs commonly associated with sepsis, your healthcare provider will, before anything else, order tests in order to diagnose and examine the severity of your infection or rule it out. One of the first and most important tests that will be required to be performed on you is a blood test. Your blood is checked for complications that may include:

  • Infection
  • Clotting problems
  • Abnormal liver or kidney function
  • A reduction in the amount of oxygen in the blood
  • An electrolyte imbalance along with dehydration and low blood pressure

After this, depending on the severity of your symptoms and what the blood tests reveal, your doctor may order additional tests, including:

  • A urine test (typically performed to look for bacteria)
  • A wound secretion test (conducted on an open wound to look for infection)
  • A mucus secretion test (to identify any germs that may be causing an infection)

If your doctor or healthcare provider is still trying to determine the source of your infection after performing the initial tests, they may order additional imaging techniques to get a better look inside your body, such as:

  • Chest x-rays to check for pneumonia or other lung infections
  • CT scans to check for appendicitis, pancreatitis, or other infections in the abdominal area
  • Ultrasounds to check for gallstones or ovarian cysts
  • MRI scans, which can identify soft tissue infections like abscesses

What are possible complications of sepsis?

As sepsis progresses, it becomes more complicated and can impair blood flow to vital organs of the patient's body, which include the heart, kidneys, and brain, among others. Additionally, sepsis can cause abnormal blood clotting that can result in small clots or even rupture blood vessels, causing damage or destruction to tissues. This can lead to organ damage, shock, and even death.

In other words, the symptoms of this rare condition can range from mild to severe, mostly depending on the severity it has, which means that in severe or serious cases, complications that may be hard to deal with are more likely to occur. Some possible and common complications of sepsis may include:

  • Blood clots
  • Increased risk of fatal infection
  • Tissue death (gangrene)
  • Organ damage or organ failure, particularly in the brain, kidneys, heart, or lungs

What are the home remedies for sepsis?

While there's no guarantee that natural home remedies will be able to cure sepsis on their own, trying them in conjunction with conventional treatment methods may help speed up your recovery. Some of the most commonly cited natural remedies for sepsis include vitamin C sources, turmeric, potatoes, garlic, honey, lobelia, and slippery elm. As with any treatment plan, it's always best to check with your doctor before starting any new medication or supplement regimen.

What to eat in sepsis

There are several foods that may help treat sepsis, including healthy fats, proteins, and fruits. It's important to note that olives, nuts, fatty fish, soy, and tofu are all good sources of healthy fats, which are important for providing your body with energy and helping to build muscle mass. You can get protein from whole eggs, fruit, and peanut butter.

Note: Before following any diet, be sure to consult with your doctor or healthcare provider if you have been diagnosed with sepsis.

What not to eat in sepsis

There are a number of different foods that should be avoided by a person who has sepsis, as these foods can make the condition worse. They include:

  • Dairy: raw or unpasteurized milk and milk products, including cheese and yogurt
  • Protein foods: undercooked (or raw) poultry, fish, meat, eggs, and tofu
  • Vegetables and fruits: uncooked or unwashed fruits, vegetables, and herbs
  • Grain products and soups: any made with raw or undercooked flour
  • Drinks: alcoholic beverages and sugary drinks
  • Other foods: any food items that are processed or high in fat

Furthermore, if you are suffering from sepsis, your doctor is the best person to tell you what kinds of foods to avoid.

Sepsis treatment options

According to research, the most effective way to treat sepsis is to:

  • Give appropriate treatment, including antibiotics
  • Maintain blood flow to the organs

However, there may also be a requirement for surgery (in rare cases) to remove tissue that has been damaged by the infection.

Antibiotics should be administered to patients suffering from sepsis as soon as possible. Antibiotics are powerful agents for fighting potentially fatal infections, including the ones that can eventually lead to sepsis. Unfortunately, as antibiotic resistance becomes more common, infections are becoming harder to deal with or treat.

Antibiotics are meant to help fight infections, but they can cause minor side effects like rash, nausea, dizziness, diarrhea, and yeast infections. In some cases, people have more serious reactions to antibiotics, such as life-threatening allergic reactions or a C. difficile (also known as C. diff) infection. C. diff can cause severe diarrhea that can further pave the way for colon damage or death.

Although there are some risks that come with taking antibiotics, like side effects or the development of antibiotic resistance, the benefits of antibiotics usually outweigh the risks when it comes to treating a serious health condition such as sepsis.

Which doctor should I consult for sepsis?

If you've been diagnosed with sepsis, it's important to seek treatment from a doctor who specializes in this field or condition. Many hospitals have infectious disease physicians or experts in the same field who can provide the care you actually need.

What are the best medicines for sepsis?

When treating sepsis non-surgically, antibiotics are the best way to go. Antibiotics fight off life-threatening infections effectively, making them ideal for treating sepsis.

How long does it take to recover from sepsis?

Ideally, antibiotic treatment should start as soon as possible after diagnosis. Intravenous antibiotics are usually replaced by tablets after two to four days. You may have to take them for 7 to 10 days or longer, depending on the severity of your condition.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

For many people who survive this life-threatening condition (sepsis), their lives return to normal, and they make a full recovery. However, some patients may have long-term effects from the illness, as is the case with other illnesses that require intensive medical care.

Who is eligible for the treatment?

If you or someone close to you has been diagnosed with sepsis, it is critical to seek medical attention and begin treatment right away. Anyone can get sepsis, and the majority of people can be treated with antibiotics if they get it early. The sooner this treatment is started, the greater are the chances for a speedy and complete recovery!Time is of the essence when it comes to sepsis; it can rapidly worsen if not treated immediately. Make sure you make your way to a hospital as soon as possible and ask for antibiotics within an hour.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

It's crucial that everyone with sepsis receives treatment as soon as the condition is diagnosed. However, people who can't take antibiotics (for certain medical reasons) must be given other options. If sepsis isn't treated early, it can degenerate into septic shock and cause your organs to fail. This is a life-threatening situation.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

While a patient still recovers from sepsis, it's important for them to set small, achievable goals for themselves every week. This will help them gradually regain your strength and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Apart from that, the patient must talk about their experiences and feelings with friends, family, and the people closest to them, or try documenting their struggles, milestones, and thoughts in a diary or journal. This can be very helpful to them by keeping track of their progress and reminding them of how far they've come!

What is the price of sepsis treatment in India?

The cost of sepsis treatment in India varies depending on the hospital, its tariffs, and the severity of the patient's condition. So, the best way to find out the cost is to get in touch with one of our experts.

What are the side effects of sepsis treatment?

Side effects of the treatment for sepsis (including antibiotics) may include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Feeling very tired and feeble (or weak)
  • Sudden changes in mood (mood swings), anxiety, or depression
  • Falling ill more often
  • Nightmares or flashbacks
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Sepsis: Outlook or Prognosis

Sepsis is most prevalent in individuals who have been hospitalized recently or are currently staying in the hospital because they are more inclined to develop infections that could potentially turn into sepsis. That said, any infection has the potential to result in sepsis, so it's crucial to see a doctor about any infection or wound that isn't responding well to treatment. If you have any symptoms associated with sepsis, such as confusion or difficulty breathing, it's classified as a medical emergency, and you should seek care right away.

Popular Questions & Answers

View All

I was travelling by bus one day and I felt like...


Dr. Ansuman Dash


Do a hiv test and hepatitis test better go for pcr or elisa advice - no sex and blood transfusion...

I am 6 weeks pregnant and got to know recently ...


Dr. Girish Dani


A hepatitis b surface antigen test shows if you have an active infection. A hepatitis b surface a...

I am taking himalaya pilex tablets for piles re...


Dr. Anjanjyoti Sarma

General Surgeon

Hello lybrate-user, probably you can take both the tablets. But I will suggest you to see a surge...

Hi doctor, I have received a hand job after a t...


Dr. Sartaj Deepak


Hi, since you haven't made any mucosal contact, which usually happens during actual intercourse, ...

I'm a tb patient and I was initially asked to t...


Vandana Prabhu


There is a way to treat drug- induced hepatitis. We should stop all att, then introduce the first...