Sepsis definitions

The medical language associated with sepsis can be complicated and difficult to understand. We have identified some of the key terms in use every day in relation to sepsis.


Bacterical infection

Bacterical infection  are caused by bacteria. Bacteria are single-celled microorganisms. Most bacteria are not harmful and many are helpful. Some bacteria in the intestine help to digest food, destroy disease-causing cells, and give the body needed vitamins. However infectious bacteria cause illness, reproducing quickly in the body. Many give off chemicals called toxins, which cause tissue damage and illness. Common bacteria that cause infections include Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and E. coli.



Cellulitis is a localized or diffuse inflammation of connective tissue with severe inflammation of dermal and subcutaneous layers of the skin.


Chills is a feeling of coldness occurring during a high fever.



Dialysis is a process for removing waste and excess water from the blood. It is most commonly used as an artificial replacement for lost kidney function in patients with renal failure.



Encephalitis is an acute inflammation of the brain.  It can be caused by viral or bacterial infections.



Fever or pyrexia is an elevation of body temperature above the normal range of 36.5–37.5 °C.

Fungal infection

Fungal infection is caused by fungi that are common in the environment. Fungi can be found on the skin, mucous membranes, and intestinal tracts. Most fungi are not dangerous. However, some types of fungi can be harmful to health and like bacteria and viruses, some fungi can act as pathogens or toxins. Some types of fungal infections can be mild, such as a rash or a mild respiratory illness. However, other fungal infections can be severe, such as fungal pneumonia or bloodstream infection.



Inflammation is part of the complex biological response of vascular tissues to harmful stimuli, such as infection. The classical signs of acute inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function.


Influenza, commonly known as flu, is an infectious disease caused by viruses.

Intravenous antibiotics

Intravenous antibiotics are whereby antibiotics are delivered directly into a vein.


Localised infection

A localised infection is an infection that is restricted or limited to a specific body part or region.

Lumbar puncture

A lumbar puncture is a diagnostic procedure performed to collect a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) for biochemical, microbiological, and cytological analysis.



Meningitis is inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, known collectively as the meninges. The inflammation may be caused by infection with viruses, bacteria, or other microorganisms. Meningitis is potentially life-threatening because of the inflammation's proximity to the brain and spinal cord.



Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung.


Peritonitis is an inflammation of the peritoneum, the thin tissue that lines the inner wall of the abdomen and covers most of the abdominal organs. Peritonitis may be localised or generalised and may result from infection.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)  is a severe psychological condition that may develop when a patient is exposed to one or more traumatic events, such as serious illness or injury, or the threat of death. The diagnosis may be given when a group of symptoms such as recurring flashbacks, avoidance or numbing of memories of the event, and high levels of anxiety continue for more than a month after the traumatic event.


Septic shock

Septic shock is a life-threatening condition that occurs when your blood pressure drops to a dangerously low level after an infection.


Urinary tract infection

A urinary tract infection is an infection that affects part of the urinary tract; the bladder or the kidneys. Infections affecting the lower urinary tract are known as cystitis (a bladder infection) and when infection affects the upper urinary tract it is known as pyelonephritis (a kidney infection).


Viral infection

Viral infection is caused by viruses. Viruses are smaller than bacteria and require living hosts — such as people, to multiply. Otherwise, they can't survive. When a virus enters your body, it invades some of your cells and takes over the cell machinery, redirecting it to produce the virus. Diseases that result from viruses include chickenpox, AIDS and the common cold.


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