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Sepsis is a condition that can be linked to a generalized infection. This infection is caused by a germ that is distributed throughout the body by the blood. Sepsis defines all the reactions in the body in response to this attack. The causes of sepsis are numerous but most often are related to bacterial damage, and rarely to another type of germ. Similarly, the initial infection can affect any organ or tissue and spread to other tissues or organs via the bloodstream. Depending on the symptoms presented by the patient, there is sepsis, severe sepsis and septic shock, in increasing severity.


Symptoms of sepsis are among the following. To be considered as sepsis, at least two of the following symptoms must be present:
  • Fever above 38 ° C or, conversely, a decrease in temperature below 36 ° C with chills;
  • more than 20 breaths per minute, blood pressure or blood carbon dioxide levels lower than 32 mm Hg;
  • tachycardia, greater than 90 beats per minute;
  • leukocytosis, more than 12,000 white blood cells per cubic millimeter, or leukopenia, less than 4000 per cubic millimeter.

Other symptoms may also be present, sometimes suggestive of the origin of the infection.
Severe sepsis is defined by the signs mentioned above, accompanied by a fall in blood pressure or organ failure.
Lastly, septic shock is severe sepsis, but that is not reversible, unlike severe sepsis, by a treatment for raising blood pressure via intravenous fluids or infusion of large quantities of drugs. It requires the use of certain drugs (see below).


To diagnose sepsis or its more severe forms, a blood sample and cultures should be taken. This allows for the identification of the organism implicated in sepsis and the choosing of the best treatment. Further investigation will be guided by additional symptoms.


Sepsis requires treatment at a hospital. The latter is based on the combination of antibiotics and treatment of the identified cause (wound, removal of foreign body involved, surgery ...). Initially, a broad-spectrum antibiotic is given. Once the type of infection is identified, antibiotics can be changed for better efficiency. In severe sepsis, infusion to raise blood pressure as well as a treatment for organ failure, if needed, are given, whereas in the case of septic shock, vasoactive drugs such as dopamine, adrenaline and noradrenaline are also given by infusion.

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