Sepsis is a common and potentially life-threatening condition triggered by an infection.
Each year in the UK, it is estimated that more than 100,000 people are admitted to hospital with sepsis and around 37,000 people will die as a result of the condition.
In sepsis, the body’s immune system goes into overdrive, setting off a series of reactions including widespread inflammation, swelling and blood clotting. This can lead to a significant decrease in blood pressure, which can mean the blood supply to vital organs such as the brain, heart and kidneys is reduced.
If not treated quickly, sepsis can eventually lead to multiple organ failure and death.
Signs and Symptoms of Sepsis
Early symptoms of sepsis usually develop quickly and can include:
- a high temperature (fever)
- chills and shivering
- a fast heartbeat
- fast breathing
In some cases, symptoms of more severe sepsis or septic shock (when your blood pressure drops to a dangerously low level) develop soon after. These can include:
- feeling dizzy or faint
- confusion or disorientation
- nausea and vomiting
- cold, clammy and pale or mottled skin
Read more about the symptoms of sepsis.
When to seek medical advice
See your GP immediately if you have recently had an infection or injury and you have possible early signs of sepsis.
Severe sepsis and septic shock are medical emergencies. If you think that you or someone in your care has one of these conditions, call 999 and ask for an ambulance.