Septic shock occurs when blood pressure drops very low after an infection. The infection first leads to a reaction called sepsis. Sepsis impairs blood flow. If it worsens, blood pressure drops. Organs cannot get enough oxygen and nutrients. If blood pressure cannot be restored, septic shock happens. Septic shock may result in multiple organ failure and death.
Sepsis and septic shock need care right away. Treatment requires hospitalization and may include:
- IV fluids and oxygen
- Antibiotics or antifungal medicines—to treat infection
- Medicines to increase blood pressure and blood flow
- Corticosteroids—to reduce inflammation
- A mechanical ventilator—to help with breathing, if the lungs fail
- Surgery—to remove dead tissue or drain infections
Other supportive therapies may also be used.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov
Society of Critical Care Medicine http://www.sccm.org
CAEP—Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians http://www.caep.ca
Health Canada https://www.canada.ca
Rhodes A, Evans LE, Alhazzani W, et al. Surviving sepsis campaign: international guidelines for management of severe sepsis and septic shock: 2016. Intensive Care Med. 2017;43(3):304-377.
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