Sepsis

Each year hundreds of thousands of people in the UK contract sepsis. According to the UK Sepsis Trust sepsis claims the lives of 52,000 people in the UK. Sepsis kills and disables more people in the UK each year than breast, bowel and prostate cancer combined, but with early diagnosis sepsis is treatable.

Sepsis (also referred to as septicaemia or blood poisoning) is a rare but very serious complication of infection where the body’s response to infection causes injury to its own tissues and organs. The infection that causes the response can be bacterial or viral. Often it starts with pneumonia, influenza (flu) or an infection in the skin, lungs, urinary tract or abdominal organs.

a heart monitor reading. Sepsis.

The key to successful treatment and preventing avoidable deaths from sepsis is early diagnosis. Recognising the signs and symptoms of sepsis can be difficult as there is no single sign and symptoms vary between adults and children. Symptoms of sepsis can be mistaken for influenza, gastroenteritis or a chest or urinary infection.

Symptoms of sepsis in adults

  • Slurred speech or confusion
  • Extreme shivering or muscle pain
  • Passing no urine in 1 day (24 hours)
  • Severe breathlessness
  • It feels like you are going to die
  • Skin is mottled or discoloured

Symptoms of sepsis in children

A child may have sepsis if he or she:

  • Is breathing very fast
  • Has a ‘fit’ or convulsion
  • Looks mottled, bluish, or pale
  • Has a rash that does not fade when you press it
  • Is very lethargic or difficult to wake
  • Feels abnormally cold to touch