Sepsis should be treated as a medical emergency. In other words, sepsis should be treated as quickly and efficiently as possible as soon as it has been identified. This means rapid administration of antibiotics and fluids. A 2006 study showed that the risk of death from sepsis increases by 7.6% with every hour that passes before treatment begins. (Critical Care Medicine)
Antibiotics (usually more than one type) are prescribed by the physician based on the type of infection that is causing the illness. The first antibiotics are usually broad-spectrum, which means the antibiotic is effective against several of the more common bacteria. The antibiotics are given by intravenous in order to ensure they get into the blood system quickly and efficiently.
Antibiotics alone won’t treat sepsis; fluids are also needed. The body needs extra fluids to help keep the blood pressure from dropping dangerously low, throwing the patient into shock. Giving the fluids by IV allows the health care staff to track how much fluid is being administered and to control the type of fluid the patient is getting.
Ensuring the body has enough fluids helps the organs do their work and may reduce damage from sepsis.
While there are several types of IV fluids, some are standard in treating sepsis. Normal saline is one commonly given fluid. It is a crystalloid fluid. These are fluids that contain minerals, such as sodium, and are water soluble, or dissolve in water. These add fluid to the blood system.
Colloids, another type of fluid that is used, are thicker. For example, blood is a colloid. Colloids that may be given by IV include albumin and dextran. Colloids do not dissolve as quickly as crystalloids. More crystalloid fluid is needed than colloid fluid to achieve the same goal of boosting body fluid volume, but crystalloids are less expensive.
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