Sepsis Awareness Month

 Every 2.8 seconds someone worldwide dies of sepsis!    



Sepsis is an emergency!

Sepsis is the most preventable cause of death worldwide!

It effects 47-50 million people worldwide every year and at least 11 million die, but many survivors face long term consequences such as loss of digits or limbs, poor memory and concentration, or post-traumatic stress disorder

Most common infections can lead to sepsis, such as pneumonia, urinary infections, infections in the abdomen, skin/wound infections, or meningitis. This also includes seasonal flu, covid-19 and malaria.

More than 80% of infections leading to sepsis are contracted outside of a hospital.        

Sepsis can occur when the bodies response to an infection ends up damaging its own tissues and organs. Sepsis may lead to multi-organ failure, shock, and death. The risk increases if not recognised early enough.

Essentially sepsis is caused by the body’s response to an infection. The body releases chemicals into the bloodstream to fight an infection. Sepsis occurs when the bodies response to these chemicals is out of balance, triggering changes that can damage multiple organ systems.

Sepsis ranges from less to more severe. As sepsis progresses, blood flow to the vital organs, such as the brain, heart, and kidneys, becomes impaired. Sepsis can also cause blood clots to form in your organs and in your arms, legs, fingers and toes, leading to varying degrees of organ failure and tissue death (gangrene). Most people recover from mild sepsis, but the average mortality rate for septic shock is about 40%.         

Anyone can get sepsis, but people with a weakened immune system are especially at risk, this includes

  • Adults over 60
  • Children under 1
  • People with chronic disease of the lung, liver, or heart
  • Diabetes or aids
  • People without a spleen
  • People who are already very sick, often in a hospital intensive care unit
  • People who have wounds or injuries, such as burns
  • People who have invasive devices, such as intravenous catheters or breathing tubes
  • People who have previously received antibiotics or corticosteroids

Early recognition and early treatment of sepsis saves lives

Symptoms of sepsis                                                                  

  • Slurred speech or confusion
  • Extreme shivering or muscle pain/fever
  • Passing no urine all day
  • Severe breathlessness
  • It feels like you are going to die
  • Skin mottled or discolored

Your patient will likely have a respiratory rate higher then or equal to 22 breaths per minute. The first (upper) number in a blood pressure reading (systolic pressure) would likely be less than or equal to 100 millimeters of mercury (mmHg).

Sepsis can progress to septic shock when certain changes in the circulatory system, the bodies cells and how the body uses energy become more abnormal. To be diagnosed with septic shock you would have a probable or confirmed infection and have both of the following

  • The need for medication to maintain blood pressure greater than or equal to 65 mmHg
  • High levels of lactic acid in your blood (serum lactate) after you have received adequate fluid replacement. If you have too much lactic acid in your blood it means your cells aren’t using oxygen properly.

If a baby or young child has any of the following symptoms you need to call 999 or go to A&E;

  • Blue, pale, or blotchy skin, lips or tongue
  • A rash that does not fade when you roll a glass over it (the same as meningitis)
  • Difficulty breathing (you may notice grunting noises or their stomach sucking under their ribcage), breathlessness or breathing very fast
  • A weak, high pitched cry that’s not like their normal cry
  • Not responding like they normally do, or not interested in feeding or normal activities
  • Being sleepier than normal or difficult to wake
  • Keeps vomiting and cannot keep any food or milk down
  • Has swelling or redness around a wound or cut
  • Has a very high or low temperature, feels hot or cold to touch, or is shivering

They may not have all these symptoms but being sepsis aware and knowing the signs could save a life.


  • Prevent infections by vaccinations
  • Basic hygiene
  • Wash hands regularly and teach children how to wash their hands well
  • Access to clean healthcare facilities
  • Clean water
  • Safe clean delivery
  • And above all AWARENESS and education
  • Don’t ignore symptoms of sepsis                                  

If an infection has led to sepsis, then early, rapid recognition and having the source of infection be treated with antibiotics will lead to much better oncomes.

Sepsis needs treatment in hospital right away. The person suffering from sepsis should get antibiotics within 1 hour of arriving to hospital.

The person with sepsis may need treatment in the intensive care unit and need a machine to help them breath (ventilator), or potential surgery to remove the infected areas.

Recovering from sepsis

Most people who survive sepsis, make a full recovery but this can take some time. The person may continue to have physical and emotional symptoms, which can last for months or even years. Long terms effects are known as post-sepsis syndrome and can include

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Nightmares or flashbacks
  • Feeling very tired and weak, and have difficulty sleeping
  • Lack of appetite
  • Changes in their mood, or anxiety, or depression
  • Get ill more often


Here is a video made by the national institute of clinical excellence (NICE) which describes a story of a patient who survived sepsis.



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