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What are the Different Types of Septic Shock Treatment?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 17, 2024
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Septic shock is a potentially fatal complication of a severe infection. The immune system becomes overwhelmed by the infection and induces body-wide inflammation. The resulting damage to body tissues, organs, and blood vessels can lead to a sudden, sharp drop in blood pressure and result in septic shock. Immediate septic shock treatment is vital to raise blood pressure and stop further tissue damage. The type of septic shock treatment needed depends on the patient's specific symptoms and complications, but most people need mechanical ventilation, intravenous (IV) antibiotics, drugs for blood pressure and inflammation, and possibly surgery to remove the infectious source.

Many patients who are admitted to the emergency room with septic shock require lifesaving breathing treatment. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation may be necessary, followed by the administration of a breathing tube. A mechanical ventilator helps to deliver fresh oxygen to the lungs and control inhaling and exhaling in patients who are unable to do so on their own. Oxygen therapy is typically given until breathing is stabilized, which may take anywhere from a few minutes to several days.

Restoring blood pressure is another important element of septic shock treatment. IV infusions of adrenaline and dopamine stimulate the central nervous systems and circulatory systems in patients who are crashing from inadequate blood flow. Compounds called isotonic crystalloids help to constrict blood vessels and raise blood pressure. In order to stop inflammation and prevent further damage to organs, a patient may also receive corticosteroids and immune system suppressants.

Ongoing septic shock treatment once the patient is stable is targeted at eliminating the underlying cause. High-strength IV antibiotics are essential in stopping the spread of bacteria in the body. Blood tests are used to identify the specific bacteria involved so doctors can be sure to give the right type of antibiotics. A patient usually needs to undergo diagnostic imaging tests so specialists can look for abscesses, lesions, and other initial sources of bacterial infection.

If an abscess is discovered, it is immediately drained or removed surgically. Many deep abscesses require needle aspiration to remove pus and bacteria from the site. If a lesion is on the skin or away from major organ systems, a surgeon may choose to excise it entirely. Doctors continue to administer septic shock treatment for several days in an intensive care ward until they are sure that bacteria are completely eradicated. In many cases, a lengthy hospital stay is necessary to recover from complications.

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Discussion Comments

By allenJo — On Nov 01, 2011

@Charred - I haven’t heard much about septic shock treatment. I do agree with you that these symptoms should be taken seriously.

I think adults can sustain an infection for a longer period of time than children can. If I had a young child who had sudden chills or extreme stomach pain or something like that, I might wait no longer than a day before deciding whether or not to go see a doctor.

I’ve heard that some kids can get things like a urinary tract infection that make it very difficult to urinate. Some of the worst urinary tract infection symptoms include urine in the blood. I wouldn’t hesitate to take the child to the doctor in that situation.

By Charred — On Oct 31, 2011

This article reinforces the importance of having a strong immune system. That an infection alone can overwhelm your body to the point of near fatality should prove that infections should be taken seriously.

Most infections can be warded off by a course of antibiotics, but if you start getting chills or shortness of breath or just pass out, you should definitely see a doctor.

I don’t know much about the condition firsthand by I have heard that people with diabetes and the old and the young are particularly susceptible to septic shock.

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