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Posted by on Mar 24, 2014 in Infections | 0 comments

First Aid Management: Septic Shock

First Aid ManagementSeptic shock is a medical emergency that occurs as a complication of an infection leading to a full-body inflammatory response resulting to severe hypotension.

Septic shock is the third stage of sepsis, the most dangerous stage that is life-threatening. It occurs as a complication of an infection leading to a full-body inflammatory response resulting to severe hypotension. It is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention if there is no medical treatment yet gotten from the initial stages of sepsis, although it is highly recommended to seek medical attention at initial signs of sepsis to avoid complications.

The full-body inflammation from sepsis results to the formation of tiny blood clots, which can decrease or completely block blood flow. As a result, the vital organs do not receive oxygen and other essential nutrients causing organs to fail leading to profound septic shock. This can ultimately lead to a life-threatening drop in blood pressure, which has proven to be fatal. Septic shock is one of the most common causes of death in intensive care units.

Causes of Septic Shock

Septic shock can be caused by any type of infection to the body, including bacterial, viral, or fungal. Bacterial infections frequently develop while a person is still in the hospital. The following are common causes of septic shock:

  • Infections of the digestive system
  • Lung infections, such as pneumonia, bronchitis or lower respiratory tract infections
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Infection of reproductive system

Risk Factors for Septic Shock

Individuals with a compromised immune system are at greater risks for developing septic shock. Particular risk factors include:

  • Diabetes
  • Cancer treatments
  • Diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, genitourinary tract, etc.
  • Age: newborns and elderly
  • Pregnant women
  • Use of injection drugs
  • Use of steroid medications
  • Use of invasive devices, such as breathing tubes or intravenous catheters, as they can introduce bacteria into the body
  • Recent major surgery
  • Long-term hospitalization
  • Long-term use of antibiotics
  • Very sick ICU patients

Signs and Symptoms of Septic Shock

Septic shock can affect any part of the body, thus its symptoms can manifest in many different ways. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of septic shock include:

  • Low blood pressure, especially when standing
  • Very low or high temperatures, accompanied by chills
  • Cool, pale fingers and toes
  • Skin rashes or discoloration
  • Little or no urine output
  • Light-headedness
  • Confusion or agitation
  • Quick heart rate
  • Palpitations
  • Dyspnea

Treatment for Septic Shock

The earlier sepsis is detected, the increased chances for survival. Almost all cases of sepsis require admission to an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for treatment. Treatment may include:

  • Intravenous antibiotics to fight infection, if caused by bacteria
  • Vaso pressure medications to constrict blood vessels and increase blood pressure
  • Insulin to stabilize blood sugar levels
  • Corticosteroids to reduce inflammation
  • Breathing machine to assist in breathing
  • IV fluids to avoid dehydration

Disclaimer: This article does not provide medical advice and should not be substituted for formal training. The information given should not be used for self-diagnosis. Seek medical attention when necessary. It is important to recognise medical emergencies at all times to avoid complications from developing. To learn more about to how to manage septic shock, enrol in first aid training with a credible provider such as St Mark James Training Ltd.


Johnson, Shannon (ND). Septic Shock. Healthline. Retrieved October 17, 2013, from


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