Sepsis, also referred to as blood poisoning or septicaemia, is a potentially life-threatening condition, triggered by an infection or injury.
Septic shock is a life-threatening condition that happens when your blood pressure drops to a dangerously low level after an infection.
Sepsis can be triggered by an infection in any part of the body. The most common sites of infection leading to sepsis are the lungs, urinary tract, tummy (abdomen) and pelvis.
What are the early symptoms and signs?
- Very high or low temperature
- Uncontrolled shivering
- Cold or blotchy hands
- Not passing as much urine
Who is at risk?
Anyone can develop sepsis after a minor injury or infection. It can affect people of any age or condition of health.
What to do if you suspect sepsis:
Seek urgent medical advice from your GP if you've recently had an infection or injury and you have possible signs of sepsis, and ask 'is this sepsis?'. If your GP practice is closed, phone the 111 service.
If sepsis is suspected, you’ll usually be referred to hospital for further diagnosis and treatment. Sepsis is a medical emergency.
If you or someone you care about has a rapid progression of these symptoms phone 999. Time is critical when it comes to treating sepsis and every hour counts.
If an ambulance is called, ambulance clinicians will assess your level of deterioration utilising NEWS 2 scoring. Treatment for sepsis usually involves:
- giving antibiotics – if the sepsis is detected early enough, this may be a course of tablets you can finish taking at home
- giving fluids intravenously (commonly known as a drip)
- giving oxygen if levels are low
Tests at hospital will include:
- taking blood cultures – to identify the type of bacteria causing sepsis
- taking a blood sample – to assess the severity of sepsis
- monitoring your urine output – to assess severity and kidney function
For more information on Sepsis, take a look at the following resources: