Your immune system works hard to stave off infection and keep you healthy, but sometimes your body can have a reaction to infection that proves detrimental to your health. Sepsis refers to a condition that occurs when a widespread infection in the body warrants a response that causes harm to tissue and organs. In severe cases, sepsis can lead to septic shock, a subset of sepsis that affects cellular metabolism, respiratory function, and can lead to a life-threatening drop in blood pressure, according to Healthline. Septic shock requires immediate medical attention.
Who Lives at Risk for Septic Shock?
Septic shock can affect anyone, as all human beings remain prone to infection and an extreme reaction to infection. The CDC reports that adults 65 years and older, young children under one year of age, individuals with chronic ailments, and other populations with weakened immune systems may live at an elevated risk for sepsis.
Causes of Septic Shock
The causes of septic shock can result from an infection originating in a number of places in the body, including the:
- Urinary Tract
Once your body senses an infection in one of these places, or others, it triggers an immune system response in order to fight the spread of bacteria. An extreme response has adverse effects on the body, during which sepsis can occur. While sepsis classifies as an extreme reaction to infection, septic shock refers to an acute subset of sepsis, when your blood pressure severely drops and creates potentially life-threatening conditions. If your body does not maintain a high enough level of blood pressure, your circulatory system and other organs can fail, leading to death.
Symptoms of Sepsis and Septic Shock
Sepsis and septic shock begin with an infection, and it’s important to take note if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Tachypnea (faster than usual rate of breathing)
- High white blood cell count (often indicative of an infection)
- Tachycardia (faster than usual heart rate)
- Fever (higher than usual body temperature)
- Shortness of breath (or difficulty breathing)
- Extreme pain or discomfort
- Clammy hands or excessive perspiration
- Confusion, disorientation, or signs of mental deterioration
Experiencing symptoms of septic shock does not necessarily mean you have the condition, but you should seek immediate medical attention. The results of septic shock can worsen, and only a healthcare professional may assess, diagnose, and treat your condition. If you think you or an elderly loved one living in a nursing home exhibits signs of sepsis or septic shock, you need to see a medical professional as soon as possible.
Preventing Septic Shock
The stronger your immune system, the more equipped your body remains to fight infection. Following medical guidelines to boost your immune system and maintain your health may help reduce your risk of infection, sepsis, and septic shock. You can talk to a doctor about how you can improve your immunity to disease.
Environmental factors also contribute to infection and sepsis, and guarding against these risks may help prevent your elderly loved one from suffering from septic shock. High-population areas or places such as hospitals and nursing homes often remain prone to pathogens. You can also wash your hands regularly, properly treat cuts, scrapes, and open wounds, and generally do your best to practice good hygiene. If your elderly loved one also suffers from a chronic disease that may weaken their immune system, managing their condition with the help of a medical professional may help. Nursing home caregivers have a responsibility to uphold a standard of care to prevent sepsis from occurring in their residents.
Treating Septic Shock
If you or your loved one receive a diagnosis of septic shock, treatment may include fluid administration, antibiotics, medications to help control blood pressure, and other methods or procedures that help stabilize bodily function, according to a study on current treatment strategies and new approaches to sepsis and septic shock in The Eurasian Journal of Medicine. In any case, a medical professional may help diagnose and treat this condition.
What to Do if You Experience Septic Shock
Hopefully, you and your loved one will never experience the trauma of septic shock, which can have long-lasting effects on your health and emotional well-being.
In the aftermath of septic shock, you may find yourself wondering how your elderly loved one acquired such a serious condition. Every case proves different, but septic shock may result due to negligence on behalf of a caregiver at a facility where your loved one resides. Exposure to a healthcare facility or nursing home that failed to properly maintain its premises and created an infectious environment, for example, can put those exposed at risk.
If you think that your loved one’s septic shock resulted from exposure to pathogens in a nursing home, a legal professional may help you understand your options. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 842-6336 to learn more about what you can do next.