Wound infections can lead to the potentially deadly complication sepsis.

Wound infection can often be easily treated with the use of antibiotics and special care to the affected area. However, when it goes neglected, infection can worsen, spread and even become deadly. One of the most dangerous complications is sepsis, which occurs when the body releases chemicals into the bloodstream to fight against infection, thereby causing an inflammatory response all throughout the body.

Sepsis-related inflammation can lead to a wide array of bodily changes that damage the organs. Additionally, it can hinder the wound healing process, causing you to take more time to recover and leaving the wound open and susceptible to even more harmful bacteria, according to the Journal of Surgical Research.

With that in mind, it’s essential to keep an eye open for the signs of sepsis. According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms include:

  • Confirmed infection
  • Abnormal temperature above 101 degrees Fahrenheit or below 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Fast heart rate exceeding 90 beats per minute
  • Fast breathing (more than 20 breaths per minute)

Those who suffer from more severe sepsis may also exhibit signs of organ failure, such as abdominal pain and low urination.

If you experience the symptoms of sepsis, see a clinician immediately for treatment – waiting can lead to septic shock caused by a drop in blood pressure and even death. The typical process for treatment includes antibiotics to fight the infection and vasopressors to help raise blood pressure. More severe sepsis can require supportive care like oxygen therapy, dialysis and intravenous fluids. Surgery may also be necessary to remove the wound infection.