Information about sepsis

Forms of Sepsis

There are three stages of sepsis:

  • Sepsis: pathogens and pathogenic products (toxins) from a local infection spread into the bloodstream and thus to almost any other organ system (systemic infection)

  • Severe sepsis: sepsis with acute dysfunction of one or more organ systems

  • Septic shock: life threatening drop in blood pressure resulting in multiple organ failure 

Sepsis or multi-organ dysfunction - also called blood-poisoning - can be described as an infection getting out of control and leading to death if not instantly treated on an intensive care unit. 

All over the world, sepsis is one of the most insidious diseases. In Germany alone, about 150,000 people are affected from sepsis each year. According to a representative study, up to 60,000 patients die from sepsis each year in Germany. Thus, sepsis is the third leading cause of death in this country.

It is therefore surprising that only about 50 percent of all Germans have heard the term sepsis before and only a few know what sepsis is all about and how to recognize it. 

Sepsis may start seemingly harmless from a local infection which the body tries to fight. This leads to is a so-called inflammatory reaction.

What happens during an inflammatory response?

The blood vessels around the site of inflammation dilate and become more permeable. Thus, the blood flows more slowly and white blood cells (leuckocytes) and messenger substances can penetrate the vessel wall and the tissue to fight the pathogens.

The four cardinal signs of inflammation are redness, heat, swelling and pain in the inflamed area.