What is sepsis and what are the symptoms?

Credit: UK Sepsis Trust

What is sepsis?

Sepsis is a common and potentially life-threatening condition triggered by an infection.

A sepsis infection can start anywhere in the body and can occur after chest or water infections, abdomen problems - such as burst ulcers - or even from cuts and bites.

It is caused by the way the body responds to germs, such as bacteria. The body’s response to an infection may injure its own tissues and organs.

If untreated, sepsis can lead to shock, multiple organ failure and death.

What are the symptoms?

Early symptoms of sepsis usually develop quickly and can include:

  • high temperature (fever)

  • chills and intrense shivering

  • a fast heartbeat

  • fast breathing

Symptoms of more severe sepsis can include:

  • feeling dizzy or faint

  • confusion or disorientation

  • nausea and vomiting

  • diarrhoea

  • not passing water for prolonged periods

  • cold, clammy and pale or mottled skin

The Sepsis Trust says it can be difficult to distinguish from flu and advises people "don't be afraid to say 'I think this might be sepsis'."

Getting antibiotics and fluid early can halt the progression of the infection.