Sepsis in adults develops in response to infections that may result from wounds, scrapes, appendicitis, meningitis, pneumonia, urinary tract infections or any other condition that allows infectious agents to enter the body, according to WebMD. In a hospital setting, patients may become infected through incision sites, IV lines or urinary catheters.
Viral, bacterial and fungal infections can all cause sepsis, but the most common causes include kidney infections, abdominal infections, bloodstream infections and pneumonia, states the Mayo Clinic. Although sepsis can affect anyone, elderly adults, diabetic individuals, recently hospitalized individuals and those with compromised immune systems are at the greatest risk of developing sepsis, according to WebMD. The initial infection can come from a condition as small as a nicked cuticle.
Although symptoms vary depending on where the condition originates, some of the earliest signs of sepsis include a change in mental status and rapid breathing. Other symptoms include rapid pulse, fever with chills, decreased urination, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, reports WebMD.
To diagnose sepsis, the doctor may order blood tests, urine tests, wound secretion tests or respiratory secretion tests, explains the Mayo Clinic. The doctor may order imaging scans such as X-rays, ultrasounds or CT scans. Patients have the highest survival rate if they receive early, aggressive treatment, which may include the use of antibiotics and vasopressors.