An infection becomes septic shock when it causes a full-body inflammatory response, explains Healthline. The inflammation causes tiny clots to form in the blood, leading to oxygen deprivation and organ failure. In some cases, septic shock is fatal.
Septic shock begins with sepsis, a systemic blood infection, notes Healthline. With a septic infection, bacteria or toxins penetrate the blood and cause inflammation throughout the body. During sepsis, individuals experience fever, heart rates above 90 beats per minute and a respiratory rate above 20 breaths per minute, states Mayo Clinic.
Severe sepsis develops throughout the body, as the inflammatory response causes widespread blood clotting, notes Healthline. The clots disrupt blood flow to certain organs, such as the brain or kidneys, and induce organ failure. Individuals experience a reduction in urine output, changes in mental status and difficulties with breathing, explains Mayo Clinic.
Severe sepsis progresses into septic shock when blood pressure drops to extremely low levels, warns Mayo Clinic. At this stage of the infection, individuals who experience the symptoms of severe sepsis become unresponsive to simple fluid replacement.
Risk of septic shock is increased in certain populations, advises Healthline. This includes newborns, pregnant women, elderly persons and individuals who recently underwent major surgery.