wikiHow to Deal with Blood Poisoning, Sepsis (SIRS)

Four Parts:Prompt medical attentionMedical testing and diagnosingDeal with contributing factorsRisk factors

(Nothing here is in place of doctor's advice and treatment. You should seek expert medical care in any suspected case of infection, or if in doubt.) There can be a rapidly developing response to an ordinary, simple infection that is life-threatening (possibly leading to multiple organ failure). It was previously and commonly known as "blood poisoning". This is sometimes named Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS), if the inflammation begins to spread system wide,[1] or you may have heard it or some phases/facet of it referred to as: sepsis or "septic shock". A syndrome is a set of medical signs/symptoms that together can indicate a specific disease or disorder.[2]

SIRS (Sepsis) can rapidly develop from that ordinary infection, but it is a mild inflammatory sepsis at onset. Sepsis includes the immune condition triggered by an infection--most often from a bacteria, or sometimes set off by virus, parasite, or fungus--and it can become serious and critical rapidly according to doctors.[1] Bacteria may enter and infect ones blood and migrate from an infection such as a dental/gum infection or bladder infection to invade, settle in and damage other organs, called a "complication" of the original infection. Sepsis may be incited by that kind of intrusion.[1]

Identifying "Sepsis": the illness strikes as ones immune system becomes over-stimulated while fighting an infection, causing widespread inflammation, throughout the body, which triggers formation of microscopic blood clots.[1] The miniature blood clots begin to block many small blood vessels, capillaries. This reduces blood and oxygen flow, causing cells, tissues and vital organs to begin to fail as their tissues are damaged and begin to die (gangrene). Such tiny clots can spread to the brain, heart, lungs and kidneys, and also in tissues of the arms, legs, fingers and toes.[1]

  • Sepsis occurs when your body's own chemicals are being released into the bloodstream to fight an infection, but those trigger inflammation in your immune system, possibly throughout the body.[3]
  • Mild sepsis sometimes can rapidly lead to another condition called "shock, or septic shock", then causing blood pressure to drop seriously which can cause death.[3]

Your body's own disease fighting efforts -- not just the nasty germs themselves -- by causing inflammation become dangerous rapidly or may cause lingering, chronic illness.[4] As part of your body’s natural defense against illness, inflammation tries to be helpful -- but while fighting germs and such, it can become over-excited and cause [your] death![4]

Mild sepsis and then severe sepsis start as a "complication" of an infection -- and it develops while the body is dealing with that original infection and possible spread of the infection.[5]

Part 1
Prompt medical attention

  1. Image titled Deal with Blood Poisoning, Sepsis (SIRS) Step 1
    Get immediate, serious medical attention, if in doubt about possibly having symptoms of either mild or severe sepsis due to a possible infection (symptoms given below). If treated medically, very urgently people can more fully recover from the "milder, beginning levels of sepsis". Recovery becomes more and more difficult as minutes and hours pass... as any organs and limbs can be damaged beyond help by tiny blood clots and death of tissues.[5]
  2. Image titled Deal with Blood Poisoning, Sepsis (SIRS) Step 2
    Get expert evaluation and treatment of infection, with or without pain or throbbing pain. Infection may be unseen/internal, which can be/lead to a very serious danger, if it goes untreated. One may be mild sepsis but then can lead to severe complications including amputations, organ failure or septic shock and 50/50 and rapidly worse chance of death--not all likely, but something might develop! For example, drug resistant streptococcal bacterial infection can be a cause of great concern. Strep is very common and can cause SIRS, or it can seem to clear up after "settling" in certain organs, causing gradual damage and inflammatory conditions, and organ weaknesses can pop up later[5].
    • Early stage, "mild sepsis" treated with antibiotics, quickly, is more curable, compared to the mortality (death rate) for a related condition during more severe sepsis complications, called septic shock syndrome, in which death is near 50 percent (about 1/2).[5]
  3. Image titled Deal with Blood Poisoning, Sepsis (SIRS) Step 3
    Observe symptoms of sepsis while the patient is at rest (resting rates) according doctors at the Mayo Clinic:[6]
    • Fever, high body temperature, greater than 101.3°F (38.5°C), possibly chills;
    • Or Low body temperature, less than 95°F (35°C), in a warm place, perhaps shivering;
    • Below normal blood pressure;
    • Pulse rate is rapid, higher than 90 per minute;
    • Respiratory rate higher than 20 breaths a minute (shallow/short breath);
    • Has a probable or confirmed infection.
  4. Image titled Deal with Blood Poisoning, Sepsis (SIRS) Step 4
    Seek "intensive care", if you think you see a possible symptom of "severe sepsis": If a person already may have symptoms of mild sepsis and then shows any one of the following symptoms of severe sepsis, get expert medical treatment. These are possible indications of severe sepsis, requiring immediate intensive medical care: if the patient exhibits "at least one of the following signs and symptoms, it may indicate an organ(s) failing":[6]
    • Abrupt, unexplained change in mental status: such as unusually confused, disoriented or dizzy (sudden difficulty speaking or behavior changes), and possible seizures;
    • Significantly decreased urine output (low kidney function), but this could be from extreme dehydration, such as from continual diarrhea and/or vomiting, very serious, also;
    • Abnormal heart pumping function/significant rhythm change;
    • Abdominal pain (possibly pancreas, kidneys or liver, etc. impaired or failing);
    • Difficult or labored breathing, unusual fatigue, light-headedness;
    • Lab: shows decreased platelet count. (Normally platelets are sent to sites of injury or infection, to signal and to control leukocytes and such in your inflammatory processes, but with severe sepsis they begin failing miserably!).[7]
  5. Image titled Deal with Blood Poisoning, Sepsis (SIRS) Step 5
    Seek immediate treatment/hospitalization if several of those symptoms are observed: Severe cases often require antibiotics given in an intensive care unit for several days or weeks:[6]
    • Early treatment of worsening sepsis, usually with antibiotics and large amounts of intravenous fluids, in an intensive care unit at a hospital, greatly improves the chance for survival, before it causes blood clots, gangrene or one even develops septic shock.[5]

Part 2
Medical testing and diagnosing

  1. 1
    Diagnosing sepsis can be difficult because its observable signs and symptoms can be caused by other illnesses/disorders. Doctors often order a battery of tests to try to clearly show the underlying infection:[8]
    • Blood tests for evidence of: infection, clotting, abnormal liver or kidney function, impaired oxygen availability, electrolyte imbalances
    • Test other bodily fluids: Urine may be checked for signs of bacteria. Wound secretions can help show what type of antibiotic might work best. Respiratory secretions from coughing up mucus (sputum) may determine what type of germ is causing the infection.
    • Imaging scans are used as tests to help visualize internal problems including in soft tissue infections, such as in lungs, liver, pancreas, bowels, spine, etc.

Part 3
Deal with contributing factors

  1. Image titled Deal with Blood Poisoning, Sepsis (SIRS) Step 6
    Show caution; watch any inflammation or infection possibly becoming worse: the beginning symptoms of sepsis all depend on where an infection started, as seemingly minor as:
    • Scrapes on a knee, deep paper cut, puncture by a construction nail,
    • A tampon left in place longer than intended;
    • Stress causes/increases inflammation:
      • Poor diet, lack of sleep, over-work,
      • Smoking, anxiety, worry, belly fat,
      • Allergies, pollution and various chemicals;
    • Serious infections or illness including:
      • Pneumonia, lung infection causing sepsis,
      • Abdominal infections (sepsis, possibly with deadly peritonitus),
      • Kidney infection (sepsis and possible kidney failure),
      • Bloodstream infection, bacteremia (bacteria in your blood -- normally such a sterile environment -- always a very bad sign)...
  2. Image titled Deal with Blood Poisoning, Sepsis (SIRS) Step 7
    Avoid or prevent infections:
    1. Be immunized for illnesses, such as: Influenza and pneumonia. An immune system weakened by such common illness are more open to sepsis, and they're avoidable.
    2. Properly clean, possibly medicate and bandage up cuts, surgical wounds, or other wounds. Even, chickenpox blisters can become infected by bacteria.
    3. Wash your hands regularly: And if you or your family member or friend is in the hospital, ask about all health providers washing their hands, and putting on new rubber gloves between patients.
    4. Do not take antibiotics for common ailments of three day viruses or colds: Such improper antibiotic use may create drug-resistant bacteria that make sepsis more dangerous.
    • Drug-resistant bacteria. Many types of bacteria now can resist the effects of antibiotics that once killed them. These antibiotic-resistant bacteria are often the root cause of the infections that trigger sepsis.
  3. Image titled Deal with Blood Poisoning, Sepsis (SIRS) Step 8
    Keep unwashed hands (Avoid germs!) away from:
    • Cuts, sores, scratched places (avoid staph infections);
    • Face, mouth and eyes and other body orifices (avoid E. coli infections):
      • Wash hands, going in and coming out of the bathroom (water-closet), toilet, handling public door handles, etc.

Part 4
Risk factors

  1. Image titled Deal with Blood Poisoning, Sepsis (SIRS) Step 9
    Avoid sleeplessness, overexertion and fatigue, especially when ill or recovering from illness. Get your seven or more hours of sleep. Extensive sleep loss/deprivation is detrimental to your immune system.
  2. 2
    Take care with the following risk factors. Realize that Sepsis is more common and more dangerous with any of these risks:[9]
    • Are very young or very old -- which may have immune system weakness
    • Have a compromised immune system -- such as due to certain illness, drugs/medications
    • Are already very sick, often in a hospital's intensive care unit -- system is overtaxed
    • Have wounds or injuries, such as burns
    • Have invasive devices, such as intravenous catheters (drip or pump) or breathing tubes -- that may introduce infection and aggravate an inflammatory response.


  • Tiny, blood clots can be made less likely during infections (and for better cardiovascular health, and for avoiding strokes), by everyday taking antioxidant supplements, and an everyday blood thinning supplement which may be an anti-inflammatory medicine by daily taking 1/2 an aspirin (aspirin is not best for children).
    • You might dissolve uncoated NSAID tablets in a spoon, to avoid globs (chunks) of it irritating the stomach lining or esophagus (note: that is if you are not using special enteric coated aspirin or ibuprofen tablets that will pass through stomach before dissolving to be less problematic/less likely for irritation of stomach or esophagus lining).
    • Acetaminophen and ibuprofen reportedly do "not lead to Reye's syndrome, but there is a link between Reye's syndrome and aspirin, especially in children and adolescents", and also, severe Reye's syndrome from reaction to aspirin can lead to "brain swelling, liver problems, coma, and sometimes death" especially in the very young.[10]
    • Natural thinners decrease blood clotting, which may be helpful to avoid some inflammatory clotting during mild sepsis. Also, some good anti-inflammatory substances may include certain foods and herbs such as grapes, berries, veggies (but caution dark green veggies, though great foods, increase blood clotting because they have vitamin K), and eat tomatoes, peppers, cinnamon and ginger, etc.
  • If you take prescription "blood thinners", ask your doctor before using any extra vitamin K or dark green veggies which may interfere with desired blood thinning (when using Warfarin/Coumadin derived from coumarins).
  • Large clots in large blood vessels of the legs and lower torso can form when seated for hours as in long airline flights, or driving without taking rest stops and may lead to "deep vein thrombosis" [blood clots traveling to damage the heart and/or lungs]:
    • Sepsis involves and causes gangrene, even if only microscopic small bits (dead tissue from not receiving adequate blood circulation, nutrients and oxygen through tiny capillaries...) which may increase clots, requiring special drugs or removing dead tissue -- perhaps, loss of toes, a foot, by amputations -- and complications of gangrene bits traveling to vital organs may become fatal.[5]
  • "Grow, feed and harvest a healthier you: for example, eat 5 or 6 "very small" meals of whole foods (do not eat processed foods, bleached grains, partially hardened shortening, including margarine, preservatives, low food value kinds of fast or junk foods, especially fried foods, avoid pork and other scavengers such as bottom feeders, including catfish, shellfish [the "cockroaches" of the sea]...);
    • Exercise, walking a lot; consider taking supplements of vitamins, herbs, extra Omega3 fatty acids (good source: wild-caught, cold water fish), vitamin B (all the B-numbers), D3, extra E, essential oils including from nuts and seeds (with a daily serving of various kinds, especially walnuts, pecans, almonds).
    • Eat bright and dark colored veggies (but realize that lovely, dark green veggies increase clotting ability, if you need blood thinning) and colorful fruits (berries, cherries, melons,...), to increase and build better health.


  • Sepsis is more likely when you are sick with flu, a bad cold, various other infections, or have diabetes or metabolic syndrome (that means obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes). Also, Infants/babies and elderly persons, may have age related immune weakness.[5]
    • Weak resistance to common infections (illnesses) means weakened immunity and that can lead to sepsis/SIRS, as a complication, based on increasing inflammation because of inability to quickly and easily beat minor infections.
  • Once you've had severe sepsis that may place you at higher risk for future infections because it may impair resistance, weakening the immune system.[5]
  • Blood thinners (actually anti-coagulants) can cause/contribute to severe bleeding of certain wounds and internal bleeding from ulcers, and head injuries hemorrhaging of brain tissues, but bleeding can not always be slowed or stopped by medications such as vitamin K. Not all anticoagulants (other than Warfarin) are canceled by a large dose of vitamin K. Not all thinners present a way to stop the bleeding by not having a means of allowing normal coagulation of blood, and must rely on blood transfusions, pressure, clamps, ice, and drugs to constrict blood vessels, and cauterization meaning sealing of cuts, incisions and lacerations by applying severe heat or chemical burns in a controlled manner -- all to slow blood oozing until the anticoagulant drug wears off. Eating large amounts of dark green veggies (having considerable amounts of vitamin K) can cancel out the thinning properties of Warfarin but not of some others.
    • Some newer, modern blood thinning prescriptions were invented/issued around 2010 can not be canceled by vitamin K, and are very dangerous if hemorrhaging occurs for that reason, for information Wikipedia: Rivaroxaban/Xarelto and others.

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Categories: Cardiovascular Health and Blood Pressure