Blood poisoning (sepsis)
The popularly called blood poisoning – a fairly accurate description of the clinical picture of sepsis. It always starts with a local infection, usually with bacteria. The pathogens and their toxins spread over the blood stream into the entire body from this disease – for example, on the leg, a tooth root, or a lung inflammation. The organism reacts with an inflammation, which gradually detects all organs. The course is usually acute, but can also be chronic.
The human organism has a whole arsenal of strategies to deal with dangerous situations. Sometimes, however, the damaging effects are so great that the defensive measures not only fail, but are also reversed and directed against the body itself. Even today, for example, in a case of blood poisoning (septicemia), in many cases is fatal.
Blood poisoning: Causes of sepsis
Usually the body succeeds in limiting an infection to its place of origin. For this purpose, the inflammatory reaction, a complex interplay of different reactions of vessels and tissues, the distribution of body substances and the migration of certain cells. This leads to the classic inflammatory signs such as redness, overheating, swelling and pain.
If, however, the body is weakened, for example in the context of another disease, or if the pathogens are particularly aggressive, the infection and thus the inflammatory reaction can spread to the whole organism. The organs are infected one by one and are therefore no longer adequately supplied with oxygen.
The more vital functions fail, the more difficult it is for the body to stop the disease. As with a chain reaction, circulatory, renal, lung, liver and other body organs can fail (“septic shock”) within a few hours, leading to death.
How common is sepsis?
The blood poisoning is more common than breast cancer, AIDS or colon cancer. It is estimated that about a third to half of those affected die of the consequences, comparable with the mortality rate in acute myocardial infarction. Sepsis is the most common cause of death in surgical intensive care units.
Blood poisoning symptoms and / or sepsis symptoms
- high temperature
If the inflammation also spreads over a superficial vein, a red, painful, progressing strand can be seen.
The blood poisoning itself is not easy to recognize, especially since the signs of illness are not very specific, that is, they can also occur in other diseases. This includes:
- high fever or fevers with chills
- Acceleration of breathing and heartbeat
- Drop in blood pressure
Blood poisoning: diagnosis and diagnostics
In the blood, there are signs of inflammation and a drop in red blood cells and coagulation disorders. The diagnosis is confirmed by the detection of pathogens in the blood culture. Ultrasound usually shows an enlargement of the liver and spleen.
Currently, researchers are trying to identify genes whose activity can be used for diagnosis or prediction.
Blood poisoning: treatment of sepsis
Since the affected person is seriously ill, the therapy of sepsis is performed in the intensive care unit. As with myocardial infarction or stroke, the healing prospects for the patient are better the sooner the treatment begins. Depending on the disease stage, the infection center should be removed if possible (for example, the gall bladder).
In addition, attempts are being made to improve the shock situation and to stop or reverse the organ failure. This includes:
- infusion therapy
- Artificial respiration
- Renal replacement therapy
- artificial feeding
- Replacement of body-borne cells (for example red blood cells) and substances such as insulin and cortisone
Recently there has been the development of specific drugs that are designed to strengthen the patient’s immune response and reduce the mortality rate in various studies.