Sepsis - also known as blood poisoning - is a serious complication of an infection which, without quick treatment, can lead to multiple organ failure and death.
There are around 250,000 cases of sepsis a year in the UK according to the UK Sepsis Trust. At least 46,000 people die every year as a result of the condition.
Anyone can develop sepsis after an injury or minor infection.
But some people are more vulnerable.
People most at risk of sepsis include:
- Those with a medical condition or receiving medical treatment that weakens their immune system
- Patients who are already in hospital with a serious illness
- The very young or very old who have who have just had surgery or who have wounds or injuries as a result of an accident
It's important to catch the condition as quickly as possible.
The early signs in the under-5s include:
- not feeding
- vomiting repeatedly
- not passing urine for 12 hours
The NHS advise that if a child has any of these symptoms, is getting worse or is sicker than you'd expect (even if their temperature falls) medical advice should be obtained urgently by calling 111.
Sepsis symptoms in older children and adults include:
- a high temperature (fever) or low body temperature
- chills and shivering
- a fast heartbeat
- fast breathing
In some cases symptoms of more severe sepsis or septic shock can develop.
These can include:
- Feeling dizzy
- Confusion or disorientation
- Diarrhoea nausea and vomiting
- Slurred speech
- Severe muscle pain
- Severe breathlessness
- Less urine production than normal – for example, not urinating for a day
- Cold, clammy and pale or mottled skin
- Loss of consciousness
The NHS advise that severe sepsis and septic shock are medical emergencies.
If you think you or someone in your care has one of these conditions, go straight to A&E or call 999.