What is Sepsis?

Six signs of Sepsis – essential information for every parent:

What is sepsis

What are we talking about

Sepsis is a common and potentially life-threatening condition where the body’s immune system overreacts to an infection. It results 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. Sadly, it is often responsible for amputations, brain damage and deaths. It is vitally important to recognise symptoms early and treat promptly.

As of January 2020, sepsis causes one in five deaths around the world. The researchers at the University of Washington estimate that 11 million people a year are dying from sepsis – more than are killed by cancer. Most cases were in poor and middle income countries, but even wealthier nations are dealing with sepsis. Even in the UK, sepsis is a challenge. The death rate is higher than in countries such as Spain, France and Canada. There are around 48,000 deaths from sepsis in the UK each year, the report shows. 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.

Read here our article on Starfish, a true story about sepsis.

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: http://sepsistrust.org/

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 visit firstaidforlife.org.uk 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.

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Information - As Essential First Aid Training We Continue to Run Face-to-Face First Aid, Blended and Online Courses. Click here to learn more...

choking child

FREE online choking course

NO credit card required!


Thanks! Please check your email to find out how to log in and get started. It may take up to 2-3minutes to arrive.

Share This