A septic infection, also known as sepsis, is an infection of the blood that leads to septic shock and organ failure in severe cases. According to WebMD, up to 750,000 people get sepsis each year, and 1 to 2 percent of all hospitalizations lead to a septic infection.
Sepsis is caused by an immune response to a massive infection that leads to extensive inflammation within the body and blood clotting that blocks the flow of oxygen to internal organs, arms and legs. Septic shock is a severe dip in blood pressure that causes several organs to fail at once and often leads to death, according to WebMD. Bacterial infections that lead to sepsis are caused by a range of conditions, from minor scrapes to serious illnesses such as pneumonia and meningitis.
Symptoms of sepsis include confusion, fever, chills, decreased urination, a rapid pulse, rapid breathing, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Those most at risk of developing sepsis include people with impaired immune systems, very young babies, the elderly, diabetics and people with recent hospitalizations or invasive medical procedures. Tests to detect bacteria or too much acid in the blood, an abnormal white blood cell count, a low platelet count, low blood pressure or impaired kidney or liver functioning are used to diagnose sepsis, according to WebMD.