Sepsis is the body's derailed response to an infection, where life-threatening disturbances occur in the functioning of organs. This derailed reaction occurs when bacteria or other germs or their toxins end up in the bloodstream or release so many inflammatory substances that a massive inflammatory reaction starts in the blood.
What normally happens in an inflamed finger, happens on (far too) large scale in the whole body. The inflammatory response becomes 'overheated' and therefore causes damage to the body. Lungs, kidneys, heart, brain or liver are at risk of falling out.
Oxygen deficiency occurs, blood vessels can leak, blood clotting gets disrupted and blood pressure can drop dangerously. If, in the latter case, this does not improve with the administration of a lot of fluid and special blood pressure-increasing medicines have to be used, we speak of a 'septic shock'.
Admission to the Intensive Care department is then required. In all cases, even without IC admission, a sepsis is life-threatening. The sooner the diagnosis is made and the treatment is started, the greater the chance of survival.
The brain has a hard time during a sepsis. An expression of this is, for example, the delirium. This is the occurrence of acute confusion. Many people experience cognitive consequences in their recovery from a sepsis, for example problems with memory, concentration, and distribution of attention.