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What is Sepsis?

Six signs of Sepsis – essential information for every parent:

What is sepsis


Sepsis is a common and potentially life-threatening condition where the body’s immune system over reacts to an infection; resulting in widespread inflammation, swelling and blood clots. This leads the body to go into septic shock, characterised by a dramatic decrease in blood pressure interrupting the blood supply to vital organs such as the brain, heart and kidneys. Sepsis needs to be treated quickly and aggressively in hospital and is sadly often responsible for amputations, brain damage and deaths. It is vitally important to recognise symptoms early and treat promptly. It is an extremely serious and life changing condition that affects over 150,000 people and kills over 44,000 people in the UK every year; it is often responsible for brain damage and amputations.

One of the most common ways of developing Sepsis is following an operation or injury where the wound becomes infected, or as a secondary infection following an illness such as Meningitis, a chest infection or septic throat.

Possible Signs and Symptoms of Sepsis

Unfortunately early Sepsis can be a difficult condition to recognise and often takes a while to diagnose. Sepsis can occur in any age group but small children deteriorate particularly quickly.

The Sepsis Trust has issued the guidance below to help parents and child carers quickly recognise the signs and symptoms in children:

What is Sepsis

Sepsis can be hard to recognise at first as early symptoms are similar to flu and other common illnesses. Sepsis often follows on from Meningitis and Septicaemia (blood poisoning) many of the symptoms are similar and all these conditions are extremely serious.

Look out for:

  • Pale, mottled skin.
  • Muscle pain and shivering
  • Slurred speech
  • Breathlessness or difficulty breathing
  • Failure to pass urine in 12 hours

Never wait for a rash

When to go to get medical help:

If they are seriously unwell and have any of the above symptoms

If you are sent home from the hospital or GP Surgery and the casualty is getting worse. Return again. Trust your instincts and tell them you are worried!

Written by Emma Hammett for First Aid for Life

It is strongly advised that you attend a Practical or Online First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Please or call 0208 675 4036 for more information about our courses.

First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.

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