Sepsis affects the body in three distinct stages.
An infection invades a specific part of the body – pneumonia affects the lungs, for example – triggering the immune system into action. The germs and toxins produced by the bacteria or virus leave the original site of infection and enter the bloodstream. This causes the inflammatory response known as SIRS (systemic inflammatory response syndrome).
Individual organs throughout the body become affected and begin to deteriorate. In severe cases, this can lead to organ failure.
More than one organ stops functioning, and the patient experiences cardio-circulatory failure that leads to a sudden drop in blood pressure. This is known more commonly as septic shock.