What happens if there is an infection in the blood


With sepsis, the body reacts with one severe blood-flooding inflammation an infection. A cut can lead to sepsis, as can an insect bite, burn, or pneumonia. In most cases, the triggers are bacteria, more rarely viruses, candida (fungi) or protozoa. Not every finding of bacteria in the blood is synonymous with sepsis. Only when the body is no longer able to fight the pathogens on its own does one develop Blood poisoning.

Without timely treatment, the entire immune system breaks down in severe sepsis. At a toxic septic shock several organs fail at the same time (multiple organ failure) and blood pressure drops massively. If sepsis has progressed to this stage, it leads to death in 50 percent of all cases. Timely drug and / or surgical treatment is therefore important for successful treatment.

Harbingers and first signs of sepsis

in the Initial stage It is not easy to distinguish sepsis from general inflammation of the body without blood poisoning. Symptoms of a SIRS (Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome) can be a harbinger of blood poisoning, but are not yet actual sepsis. Symptoms of SIRS include

  • increased heart rate (more than 90 beats per minute)
  • increased breathing rate (more than 20 breaths per minute)
  • body temperature deviating significantly from below (below 36 ° C) or above (above 38 ° C)
  • severely decreased or increased number of leukocytes (white blood cells)

If the attending physician notices the symptoms listed above, there does not have to be blood poisoning. Only when the Inflammation spreads all over the body, medicine speaks of a simple sepsis.

When inflammation turns into sepsis

If there is a complex systemic immune reaction in the form of sepsis, one is first apparently harmless inflammation is the trigger. This can be pneumonia or other infection as well as a purulent wound. This does not automatically lead to so-called blood poisoning and in most cases the body's immune system can deal with the intruders on its own. One from the most varied of causes weakened immune system cannot offer enough resistance to the pathogens.

When sepsis is on its way, quick action is essential for healing. Untreated blood poisoning becomes life-threatening very quickly. Those affected often underestimate the imminent danger to life, although the sepsis after cardiovascular disease and cancer on 3rd place among the causes of death in Germany lies. Around 150,000 people suffer blood poisoning each year, half of which is fatal. At the first symptoms and suspicion of sepsis, medical help should be sought immediately, even if it is ultimately SIRS.

Fast diagnosis and timely treatment in sepsis are essential for survival

Even with minor complaints such as general malaise, high temperature and rapid breathing, those affected should not take their condition lightly. Because in an emergency, it is not a harmless cold or a slight infection, but serious blood poisoning. The attending physician differentiates between one mild, moderate, and severe sepsis.

A quick diagnosis leading to timely treatment can be life-saving, because undetected and treated too late Sepsis can worsen dramatically within a few hours. In severe sepsis, several organs such as the heart and lungs, liver and kidneys fail at the same time and the Chances of survival drop dramatically. The time factor and the correct interpretation of the symptoms are therefore decisive for successful treatment.

Important criteria for serious sepsis

If the patient looks confused, if the pulse is racing with accelerated breathing and suddenly rising or falling temperature, then sepsis could be present. Seriously criteria indicative of sepsis are

  • Confusion from blood poisoning in the brain
  • accelerated and shallow breathing
  • fast heartbeat of more than 90 beats / minute
  • significantly decreased blood pressure with less than 90 mmHg
  • decreased urine output due to renal impairment
  • body temperature increased above 38 ° C with chills or decreased body temperature below 36 ° C

A quick clarification by the doctor is very important as other diseases can also trigger the various symptoms.

Clear and overestimated warning signals - from spots on the skin to the dreaded "red line"

Medical laypeople like to use the famous red line leading from a wound to the heart as a sign of blood poisoning. There is no need to panic, because the red line initially only indicates one Inflammation of the lymphatic system down. Untreated can result from such Lymphingitis As with any inflammation, develop blood poisoning, but not necessarily. Therefore, in any case, the doctor should be consulted.

A clear indication of sepsis after one Meningococcal infection (Bacteria in the nose and throat) are one Large number of small red spots on the skin. These spots can develop into bluish or deep red areas that are reminiscent of bruises, or they can form blood blisters. Admission to the hospital is indicated in any case with these warning signals.

Blood culture and antibiotic treatment

In the hospital, the attending physicians place one if sepsis is suspected Blood culture to determine the pathogen and at the same time test the blood for the hormone precursor procalcitonin formed in the thyroid gland. If there is blood poisoning, it increases Procalcitonin levels in the blood ten thousand times. It usually takes 24 to 36 hours until the pathogen is clearly identified. In the meantime, the doctor therefore treats with a broad spectrum antibiotic that is effective for many pathogens. Once the pathogen is clearly identified, targeted therapy with a specific antibiotic begins. Overall, the treatment in case of blood poisoning four pillars:

  • drug therapy with antibiotics
  • Intensive medical therapy as support (e.g. oxygen administration and thrombosis prophylaxis)
  • Treating the failing organs such as artificial respiration and hemodialysis
  • Immunotherapy against thrombi (blood clots)

There is no generally binding therapy for sepsis. Rather, in the individual case the course is through a Interaction of different treatment components to stop.

Rehabilitation after moderate to severe sepsis

After surviving moderate to severe sepsis, rehab is recommended in order to safely return to everyday life after intensive medical treatment. It is important to strengthen damaged nerve tracts and no longer functioning muscles with findings such as numbness and paralysis and to make them fit again for work, school and study as well as everyday life. Suitable for this Rehabilitation clinics with a focus on neuropathies like Critical Illness Polyneuropathy (CIP), which is common in severe sepsis.

The family doctor will advise you individually on the choice of a suitable clinic for rehab after sepsis. The rehab is stationary to be carried out and, depending on the severity of the sequelae, can be significantly longer than the usual 21 to 24 days last. The focus is on occupational and physiotherapy as well as respiratory therapy. Health insurances (statutory and private) as well as pension insurance providers come into question as cost bearers to whom the rehab application is to be sent. A subsidy is also possible after the rehab has been approved.

Last changed on: 02/21/2020

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