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Septic shock is a potentially lethal drop in blood pressure due to the presence of bacteria in the blood. This condition, characterized by the presence of bacteria in blood, is also called the bacteremia.
It is proven that bacterial toxins together with the immune system which response to them, cause a dramatic drop in blood pressure, preventing the delivery of blood to the organs. What is the greatest danger of this shock? Well, experts are saying that the septic shock can lead to multiple organ failure including respiratory failure, and may cause rapid death.
Possible causes and symptoms of septic shock
Before we skip to the probable cause of septic shock, we should first mention several details about the infection and bacterial toxins. The fact is that, during some infection, certain types of bacteria can produce and release complex molecules, called endotoxins. It is proven that these endotoxins may provoke a dramatic response by the body's immune system. The most important fact is that when, released in the bloodstream, these endotoxins are dangerous, because they become widely dispersed and affect the blood vessels themselves. It is normal that these arteries and the smaller arterioles open wider, but at the same time, the walls of the blood vessels become leaky, allowing fluid to seep out into the tissues, lowering the amount of fluid left in circulation. It is logical to assume where all this leads! Several researches done in the past have shown that this combination of increased system volume and decreased fluid causes a dramatic decrease in blood pressure and reduces the blood flow to the organs.
When does it commonly occur?
Well, although there are no rules, most experts claim that the septic shock is seen most often in patients with suppressed immune systems, and is usually due to bacteria acquired during treatment at the hospital. How come? Well, there are two reasons: first- the immune system is suppressed by drugs used to treat cancer, autoimmune disorders, organ transplants, and diseases of immune deficiency such as AIDS, and second- bacteria, found in hospitals, are much more resistant then the “usual” types found in other places! Some researches done on shock patients showed that this syndrome most often occurs in menstruating women using highly absorbent tampons. How come? Well, it is easy to explain – these tampons, when left in place longer than other types; provide the perfect ground for Staphylococcus bacteria, which may then enter the bloodstream through small tears in the vaginal wall.