Sepsis happens when the body’s response to infection affects its own tissues. Instead of fighting disease-causing agents, the body produces an uncontrolled inflammatory response that causes circulatory problems, organ failure and death. This condition, called septic shock, has a grim mortality rate of 30 to 50 percent.
In a study published in 2010 in the journal Intensive Care Medicine, researchers found that vitamin C reduced the mortality rate of septic mice. The team also noticed that, aside from improving the health of the subjects, use of vitamin C produced no side effects.
In another study, this time involving human patients suffering from sepsis at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, researchers compared the effects of using vitamin C to traditional treatment. The participants were divided into two groups; one group was treated with intravenous vitamin C, hydrocortisone and thiamine while the second group received conventional medications for the sickness.
The doctors administered 1.5 grams of intravenous vitamin C every six hours for four days, 200 mg of thiamine every 12 hours for four days and 50 mg of hydrocortisone every six hours for seven days to the first group.
The research team found that among the 47 patients that received treatment with vitamin C, only four died. Meanwhile, 19 of the 47 patients who received the conventional medications died. This means that incorporating vitamin C into the treatment protocol of sepsis patients reduced the mortality rate by 87 percent.
In addition, the researchers did not record a single case of organ failure among the patients who received vitamin C. They also showed faster recovery compared to the other group.
Sepsis cases are also linked to low vitamin C levels. In a 2017 study, researchers found that 40 percent of critically ill sepsis patients in the study were vitamin C deficient. (Related: Study: Vitamin C improves sepsis survival rates.)
According to experts, vitamin C helps reverse the symptoms of sepsis by fighting oxidative stress -- one of the factors that contribute to the disease. Ascorbic acid can fight oxidative stress because it acts as an antioxidant that fights the oxidative stress caused by free radicals, which are numerous in cases of sepsis.
Moreover, vitamin C also has anti-inflammatory properties, can help improve blood circulation and helps boost the immune system. Some studies also show that vitamin C, together with hydrocortisone, can help combat capillary leakage, a condition that is closely associated with sepsis.
Common infections that progress to sepsis are infections in the lungs, urinary system, digestive system, bloodstream, catheter sites and wounds or burns.
In addition, the risk for sepsis is higher for the elderly, infants, people with a weakened immune system, diabetics, those with kidney or liver disease, people with prolonged hospital stays especially in intensive care units and people who're using antibiotics or corticosteroids.
Even the World Health Organization (WHO) has yet to ascertain the exact numbers of sepsis-related deaths. But some experts estimates that there were 48.9 million cases of sepsis worldwide in 2017. Of these, 11 million people died, which accounted for 20 percent of all global deaths for that year. Approximately 85 percent of the cases and deaths are from low to middle-income countries. In addition, an estimated 20 million cases of sepsis were recorded in 2017 in children five years old and younger, resulting in 2.9 million deaths worldwide. Moreover, during that year, infections that largely contributed to sepsis cases were diarrheal diseases and respiratory infections.
Based on the data from the studies on its effects on sepsis, vitamin C could become a key component in reducing the cases of sepsis around the globe.
Visit Health.news to learn more about the benefits of Vitamin C and the dangers of sepsis.