Sepsis and septic shock are closely related, but they are not the same thing. Sepsis refers to a bacterial infection within a person’s blood usually entering the body through a different infection, such as an infected tooth or a urinary tract infection. If the bacteria from the infection works its way into the bloodstream, it can quickly spread to other parts of the body with the same efficiency as an individual’s blood.

Septic shock occurs when a body is overtaken with sepsis, sometimes rapidly and sometimes over a period of time, resulting in a significant drop in blood pressure or increase in the body’s lactic acid. This can happen when a person has sepsis but does not get treated or when a person with sepsis has a weaker immune system. Sepsis can be treated with antibiotics and happens commonly. When sepsis turns to septic shock, emergent treatment is critical and can be life-saving. Even with treatment, septic shock results in death 20-50% of the time.