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Identifying sepsis

Sepsis: knowing the symptoms

Sepsis is the body’s life-threatening response to infection. It can affect anyone but is more common in people who have a weakened immune system, a long-term condition, and those who are very young or are frail. The incidence is particularly high in patients with a learning disability.

Identifying sepsis in babies and young children

Symptoms of sepsis may include:

  • abnormal temperature – low as well as high
  • difficulty (or rapid) breathing
  • lack of interest in eating and drinking, or have stopped feeding
  • not passing urine for 12 hours or longer
  • repeated vomiting
  • being sleepier than usual or difficult to wake
  • a high-pitched cry
  • change in mental state including unresponsiveness or agitation
  • irritability
  • mottled pale or bluish skin, or a rash that does not fade when pressed

Parental concern is another key feature that needs to be considered.

Identifying sepsis in adults and older children

Symptoms may include:

  • feeling extremely unwell
  • abnormal temperature – low as well as high
  • chills and shivering
  • a fast heartbeat
  • fast breathing or difficulty breathing
  • feeling dizzy or faint
  • decreased urine production
  • a change in mental state, such as confusion, disorientation or agitation

For further information, see:

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