Sepsis - the signs to look out for

NHS advice
NHS advice

Following news of a Horsham postman who was left fighting for his life after having sepsis, here are the signs to look out for.

Sepsis is a serious complication of an infection. Without quick treatment, sepsis can lead to multiple organ failure and death.

See: Brave battle of Horsham postman left fighting for life by killer bug

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, although some people are more vulnerable.

This is the advice from the NHS.

In older children and adults early symptoms of sepsis may 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 (when your blood pressure drops to a dangerously low level) develop soon after.

These can include:

- feeling dizzy or faint

- a change in mental state – such as 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

When to get medical help

Seek medical advice urgently from NHS 111 if you’ve recently had an infection or injury and you have possible early signs of sepsis.

If sepsis is suspected, you’ll usually be referred to hospital for further diagnosis and treatment.

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.

Treatments for sepsis

If sepsis is detected early and hasn’t affected vital organs yet, it may be possible to treat the infection at home with antibiotics. Most people who have sepsis detected at this stage make a full recovery.

Almost all people with severe sepsis and septic shock require admission to hospital. Some people may require admission to an intensive care unit (ICU).

Because of problems with vital organs, people with severe sepsis are likely to be very ill and the condition can be fatal.

However, sepsis is treatable if it is identified and treated quickly, and in most cases leads to a full recovery with no lasting problems.

For more details and advice got to www.nhs.uk/conditions/sepsis