Who is at risk for sepsis?

Dr. Leigh Vinocur, MD
Emergency Medicine Specialist

Those at greater risk of getting sepsis than the general population are the very young and the very old, as well as those with compromised immune systems. It is especially common in people in intensive care units who are already very ill. Contributing factors are believed to be our aging population, overuse of antibiotics and emerging resistant bacteria and increasing numbers of survivors with weaker immune systems from multiple other disease, such as diabetes, transplants and cancer.

Children, the elderly, people who are obese, and people who have a weakened immune system or are being treated for chronic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and asthma, are most at risk of contracting sepsis. In any case, your chances of developing sepsis are slim. When people do develop sepsis it is usually because of less-than-perfect sanitary conditions. The most common sites of hospital-borne infections that lead to sepsis include intravenous lines, surgical openings (e.g., incisions and drains) and anywhere else the skin is compromised (think bedsores).

People who are at greatest risk for sepsis are those with autoimmune diseases and the elderly.

There are many factors that can increase your risk for sepsis. The most common risk factor is a weak immune system, which cannot fight off infections. Weakened immune systems are more likely to be found in infants, people over the age of 65, pregnant women, or anyone who has a disease that would affect their ability to fight off infections. Your risk is also increased if you have any medical device inserted in your body because this is an easy way to introduce bacteria into the body.

People with compromised immune systems who aren't in the best health are at a higher risk for sepsis.

Continue Learning about Infectious Disease

Should You Worry About MERS?
Should You Worry About MERS?
MERS, short for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, is the latest disease outbreak making headlines -- and the ...
Read More
How can I avoid getting a disease from bats while exploring caves?
Univ. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family MedicineUniv. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family Medicine
Many bats rely on cave roosts and are often found in groupings that can number in the millions. Cave...
More Answers
5 Weird Diseases You Thought Were Gone
5 Weird Diseases You Thought Were Gone5 Weird Diseases You Thought Were Gone5 Weird Diseases You Thought Were Gone5 Weird Diseases You Thought Were Gone
These blasts from the past continue to make people sick.
Start Slideshow
Why Can't We Develop Just One Drug to Combat Malaria?
Why Can't We Develop Just One Drug to Combat Malaria?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.