What is Sepsis

Sepsis 6

What is Sepsis?

Sepsis was previously known as septicaemia or blood infection.

Sepsis is caused by the abnormal way the body reacts to germs, such as bacteria, entering into your body and developing into an infection.

This results in your body attacking and damaging its own organs and tissues which can lead to septic shock, multiple organ failure and death especially if it’s not recognized early and promptly treated and escalated.

How do I get Sepsis?

Sepsis can start from any source of infection in a sufferer’s body including the lungs (pneumonia), bladder and kidney (urinary tract infections), skin injuries such as cuts and bites (cellulitis), abdomen (such as appendicitis), and other areas (such as meningitis).

 Sepsis can be caused by a huge variety of different bugs, many of which are common bacteria which we come into contact with every day without making us ill. Viruses and fungi can also cause sepsis.

Who is at risk of developing sepsis?

Anyone can develop sepsis but some groups of people are more likely to develop sepsis, such as if you:

  • are very young  or very old
  • are very frail and/or malnourished
  • have a compromised immune system due to taking drugs to treat cancer (chemotherapy), long term steroids or immunosuppressant drugs;
  • have diabetes
  • have serious illness  which affect your immune system such as AIDS, liver disease or leukaemia
  • have had an organ transplant and are on anti-rejection drugs
  • have had a recent surgery, or other invasive procedures
  • have an infection or complication after surgery
  • have a wound for example, surgical incision, cuts, burns, blisters or skin infections
  • are pregnant, have given birth or had a termination or miscarriage in the past 6 weeks

How do I know I have sepsis?

There is no one sign for sepsis. You may feel like you are developing a flu-like illness, gastroenteritis or a chest infection at first.  This makes it difficult to diagnosis sepsis and can result  in delays in treatment until the condition worsens and becomes more serious.

The UK Sepsis Trust ( provides useful information on how to spot sepsis, such as being aware of any of the signs and symptoms listed on the SEPSIS poster below, as well as offering support and guidance for those who have had sepsis and/or their families.


CLICK HERE: Sepsis: A guide for Patients and Relatives

CLICK HERE: Spotting Sepsis in under 5’s - Video for parents

CLICK HERE: Spotting Sepsis in Children – leaflet



If you recognise these symptoms either in yourself or someone else you should seek urgent medical treatment. Although sepsis is dangerous, a quick response can make a huge difference. Sepsis CAN be beaten – if we all become more aware of the condition and learn to recognise the symptoms, we could save thousands of lives

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