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Sepsis (Blood Poisoning)

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Sepsis (blood poisoning) facts

  • Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening medical condition that's associated with an infection.
  • Blood poisoning is a nonmedical term that usually refers to the medical condition known as sepsis.
  • There are three described clinical stages of sepsis.
  • The major diagnostic criteria for sepsis are altered mental status, increased respiratory rate, and low blood pressure.
  • The majority of cases of sepsis are due to bacterial infection.
  • Sepsis itself is not considered to be contagious.
  • Sepsis is treated with hospitalization, intravenous antibiotics, and therapy to support any organ dysfunction.
  • Although the first health care professionals to treat a patient with sepsis may be a primary care, pediatric, or emergency-medicine specialist, critical care specialists, hospitalists, infectious disease, and lung (pulmonologists) specialists are usually consulted to help treat sepsis; infrequently, a toxicologist or surgeon may also be consulted.
  • Prevention of infections and early diagnosis and treatment of sepsis are the best ways to prevent sepsis or reduce the problems sepsis causes.
  • The prognosis depends on the severity of sepsis as well as the underlying health status of the patient; in general, the elderly have the worst prognosis.

What is blood poisoning?

Blood poisoning is a nonspecific term used mainly by nonmedical individuals that describes, in the broadest sense, any adverse medical condition(s) due to the presence of any toxic agent in the blood. Usually, the layperson using the term blood poisoning is referring to the medical condition(s) that arise when bacteria or their products (or both) reach the blood. Blood poisoning is not a medical term and does not appear in many medical dictionaries or scientific publications. However, when it is used, the correct medical term that most closely matches its intended meaning is sepsis. Many medical authors consider the terms blood poisoning and sepsis to be interchangeable, but the trend in the medical literature is to use the term sepsis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/8/2017


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