What Blood Tests Show Sepsis? Full Guide

What Blood Tests Show Sepsis? Full Guide
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What Blood Tests Show Sepsis?

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body’s response to an infection damages its own tissues.

When the infection-fighting processes turn on the body, they cause organs to function poorly and abnormally. Sepsis may progress to septic shock.

This is a dramatic drop in blood pressure that can lead to severe organ problems and death.

Sepsis is treatable if it’s identified and treated quickly with early treatment with antibiotics and intravenous fluids.

Some of the blood tests that can be used to diagnose sepsis include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC): This test measures the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets in your blood. A high white blood cell count can be a sign of infection. A low platelet count can be a sign of sepsis.
  • Blood culture: This test is used to identify the bacteria or fungus that is causing the infection.
  • C-reactive protein (CRP): This test measures the level of CRP in your blood. CRP is a protein that is produced by the liver in response to inflammation. A high CRP level can be a sign of sepsis.
  • Procalcitonin (PCT): This test measures the level of PCT in your blood. PCT is a protein that is produced by the body in response to bacterial infection. A high PCT level can be a sign of sepsis.
  • Lactate: This test measures the level of lactate in your blood. Lactate is a substance that is produced by the body when it is under stress. A high lactate level can be a sign of sepsis.

What are the symptoms of sepsis?

The symptoms of sepsis can vary depending on the severity of the infection. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pain
  • Skin rash
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What are the risk factors for sepsis?

Some of the risk factors for sepsis include:

  • Age: Sepsis is more common in the very young and the very old.
  • Chronic diseases: People with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, and HIV/AIDS, are at an increased risk of sepsis.
  • Surgery: People who have recently had surgery are at an increased risk of sepsis.
  • Trauma: People who have experienced trauma, such as a car accident or a fall, are at an increased risk of sepsis.
  • Burns: People who have burns are at an increased risk of sepsis.
  • Immunosuppression: People who have weakened immune systems, such as those with cancer or HIV/AIDS, are at an increased risk of sepsis.

How is sepsis treated?

Sepsis is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment. Treatment typically involves:

  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics are used to kill the bacteria or fungus that is causing the infection.
  • Intravenous fluids: Intravenous fluids are used to replace the fluids that are lost due to dehydration and to help improve blood pressure.
  • Vasopressors: Vasopressors are medications that are used to increase blood pressure.
  • Oxygen: Oxygen is used to help improve breathing.
  • Surgery: Surgery may be necessary to remove infected tissue or to drain an abscess.

How can sepsis be prevented?

There are no surefire ways to prevent sepsis, but there are some things you can do to reduce your risk, such as:

  • Practice good hygiene: Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Get vaccinated: Get vaccinated for common infections, such as pneumonia and influenza.
  • Control your chronic diseases: If you have a chronic disease, such as diabetes, cancer, or HIV/AIDS, work with your doctor to control your condition.
  • Be aware of the symptoms of sepsis: If you experience any of the symptoms of sepsis, see your doctor immediately.
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FAQ

What is the difference between sepsis and septic shock?

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body’s response to an infection damages its own tissues.

Septic shock is a dramatic drop in blood pressure that can lead to severe organ problems and death. Septic shock is a complication of sepsis and is the most severe form of the condition.

How is sepsis diagnosed?

Sepsis is diagnosed based on a combination of factors, including:

  • Your symptoms: Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and medical history.
  • A physical examination: Your doctor will examine you for signs of infection, such as fever, rapid heart rate, and rapid breathing.
  • Blood tests: Your doctor will order blood tests to check for signs of infection, such as a high white blood cell count and a high C-reactive protein (CRP) level.
  • Imaging tests: Your doctor may order imaging tests, such as a chest X-ray or a CT scan, to look for signs of infection.

How is sepsis treated?

Sepsis is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment. Treatment typically involves:

  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics are used to kill the bacteria or fungus that is causing the infection.
  • Intravenous fluids: Intravenous fluids are used to replace the fluids that are lost due to dehydration and to help improve blood pressure.
  • Vasopressors: Vasopressors are medications that are used to increase blood pressure.
  • Oxygen: Oxygen is used to help improve breathing.
  • Surgery: Surgery may be necessary to remove infected tissue or to drain an abscess.

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