Sepsis always starts off with a local infection, which is caused by bacteria, fungi or protozoa (causing malaria). Basically, any infection might progress to sepsis. The inflammation's four basic symptoms as described by Celsus in the 1st century BC
are always found at the site of the infection. If the organism is not able to limit the infection to the site of its origin (e.g. the lung when suffering from pneumonia or the tonsils when suffering from tonsillitis) microbial toxins cause an inflammation of all organs in the body, which can be compared to a chain reaction gone out of control after a nuclear power accident. Within only a few hours all vital organs show the symptoms of inflammation as stated above and are threatening to collapse:
Finally, the body's own immune defence turns against itself. In 1905, the famous German scientist Paul Ehrlich coined the term "Horror autotoxicus" for this condition. Without rapid intensive care there is no chance to survive such a condition. In spite of intensive care and medication with antibiotics about 25-40% of these patients die, because the diagnosis is often made too late.
Early symptoms of sepsis can be traced back to a low oxygen supply and may appear as:
These symptoms are less specific because they can also be found in a variety of different diseases. It is therefore difficult to make an early diagnosis of sepsis. New methods of analysing the blood of patients with infections help to detect sepsis much earlier than is possible using clinical criteria alone.
Sepsis is treated by modern intensive care therapy according to evidence-based guidelines
Only little progress has been made. Researchers worldwide are looking for new medications, which act directly on the immune response.
The German Sepsis Aid helps you with further questions. It is a sepsis-related support group which derived from an initiative supported by the German Sepsis Society. The inaugural meeting was held on the occasion of the 3rd International Congress of GSS on 05 September 2007.
Please feel free to contact the German Sepsis Aid.
(+49) 0700 - SEPSIS - 00
(+49) 0700 - 737747 - 00