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Septic Shock

What is it? Septic shock may occur with a very bad infection or with a serious injury (burns, trauma). With septic shock, body tissues and organs do not get enough blood and oxygen. The body tissues and organs may then start to die. It is most common in elderly people or those with other illnesses. Septic shock is a very serious illness. Some people can die from septic shock.


  • Germs such as bacteria (bak-teer-e-uh), fungus, yeast, or viruses may cause a bad infection which the body cannot handle. The infection may make harmful poisons which are called toxins. Blood vessels may leak fluid into the tissues because of how your body deals with the toxins. The toxins may cause the heart to not beat strongly enough which lowers your blood pressure.
  • Not enough oxygen gets to your tissues and organs when your blood pressure is too low. Your body needs oxygen to stay healthy. Without enough oxygen your body makes too many waste products. These extra wastes can harm the body and make things worse.

Signs and Symptoms: You may have a fast heartbeat, low blood pressure, fast breathing, or dizziness. Other signs may be chills, fever, warm skin, sweating, or confusion.

Care: Septic shock can be very hard to treat. Caregivers will do tests to learn what is causing your illness. Medicine and other care will be used to treat septic shock while you are in the hospital.

Do's and Don'ts: Take care of any infection that you get. This may keep the infection from spreading in your body. Signs or symptoms of an infection are redness, swelling, and tenderness. You may have fever, fast breathing, dizziness, or a fast heart rate if your infection has spread in your body.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about septic shock and how it can be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care will be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.