Infection / Sepsis
Infection / Sepsis
Infection occurs when viruses, bacteria, or other microbes enter the body and start to damage the body’s cells. Signs and symptoms of the infection appear as an illness and the patient feels unwell. In the elderly, infection can be resultant from an undiagnosed urinary tract infection (UTI) or pressure injury wound that is worsening.
With an infection, our body’s immune system springs into action and releases chemicals into the bloodstream to fight the infection.
Sepsis occurs when the body is unable to contain the infection in the original site, and the infection spreads into the blood. Chemicals are released into the bloodstream to fight an infection triggering inflammation throughout the body. When the body’s immune response to these infection chemicals is out of balance, it triggers changes that can damage multiple organ systems. Sepsis can cause a cascade of changes that can damage multiple organ systems, leading them to fail, potentially resulting in death.
The elderly are at particular risk for bacteremia and sepsis related to multiple factors including health history, medical issues and malnutrition. The clinical presentation of sepsis is often atypical in elderly patients, complicating and potentially delaying a diagnosis of infection. It is important to know what would be expected of nursing staff when doing a case review involving infection / sepsis. If caught early, sepsis can be treated, in most cases, with antibiotics.
Signs of infection can include fever or hypothermia, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, fast heart rate, and mental confusion. Organs including the lungs and kidneys are at high risk for serious injury and complications related to untreated sepsis. Organs could potentially be permanently damaged as a result of severe sepsis.
If not caught and treated in a timely manner, sepsis can lead to severe sepsis, septic shock, organ failure, and potentially death.
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