Information about Sepsis

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Sepsis is an inflammatory immune response triggered by an infection. Bacterial infections are the most common cause, but fungal, viral, and protozoan infections can also lead to sepsis. Common locations for the primary infection include the lungs, brain, urinary tract, skin, and abdominal organs. Risk factors include being very young, older age, a weakened immune system from conditions such as cancer or diabetes, major trauma, or burns. Previously, a sepsis diagnosis required the presence of at least two systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) criteria in the setting of presumed infection. In 2016, a shortened sequential organ failure assessment score (SOFA score), known as the quick SOFA score (qSOFA), replaced the SIRS system of diagnosis. qSOFA criteria for sepsis include at least two of the following three: increased breathing rate, change in the level of consciousness, and low blood pressure. Sepsis guidelines recommend obtaining blood cultures before starting antibiotics; however, the diagnosis does not require the blood to be infected. Medical imaging is helpful when looking for the possible location of the infection. Other potential causes of similar signs and symptoms include anaphylaxis, adrenal insufficiency, low blood volume, heart failure, and pulmonary embolism.