Sepsis is a life-threatening illness that can occur when the body’s response to an infection damages its own tissues and organs and can lead to organ failure. Sepsis is the leading cause of death from infection around the world.

Sepsis can be difficult to predict and diagnose.

If identified early, Sepsis is treatable.

Signs of sepsis

  • rapid breathing
  • rapid heart rate
  • confusion, slurred speech or disorientation
  • fever or shivering
  • muscle pain
  • not passing urine
  • discoloured skin

Signs of sepsis in children and infants

  • convulsions or fits
  • rapid breathing
  • discoloured, very pale or bluish skin
  • a rash that doesn’t fade when pressed
  • fever OR very low temperature
  • not passing urine (or no wet nappy) for several hours
  • vomiting repeatedly
  • no appetite or not feeding

What causes sepsis?

Sepsis occurs when the body’s response to an infection becomes harmful. Infection causes the immune system to release chemicals into the blood to fight the infection.  These chemicals can cause generalised inflammation in the body causing blood vessels to leak and form blood clots. These changes can damage the body’s organs.

Almost any type of infections can lead to sepsis, including infections of the lungs, abdomen (such as appendicitis), urinary tract, skin, or other parts of the body.

Treating sepsis

Sepsis requires urgent medical treatment, usually in hospital.

Am I at risk of sepsis?

Anyone can develop sepsis, however children, infants, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are most vulnerable. People with chronic illness, such as diabetes, AIDS, cancer and kidney or liver disease, are also at increased risk, as well as people who have experienced a severe burn or physical trauma.