Sepsis campaign

What is sepsis

Sepsis, also known as blood poisoning, is the reaction to an infection in which the body attacks its own organs and tissues.

Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening condition, however it can be easily treated if caught early.

Symptoms of sepsis will present differently between adults and children. The information below is to help you identify the symptoms.

How do I spot sepsis

Sepsis could occur as the result of any infection. There is no one sign for sepsis. It is a serious condition that can initially look like flu, gastroenteritis or a chest infection.

Seek medical help urgently if you develop any of the following:

  • slurred speech or confusion
  • extreme shivering or muscle pain
  • passing no urine (in a day)
  • severe breathlessness
  • it feels like you’re going to die
  • skin mottled or discoloured

Sepsis in children

If your child is unwell with either a fever or very low temperature (or has had a fever in the last 24 hours), just ask, could it be sepsis?

Call 999 if a child has the following symptoms:

  • is breathing very fast
  • has a fit or convulsion
  • looks mottled, bluish, or pale
  • has a rash that does not fade when you press it
  • is very lethargic or difficult to wake
  • feels abnormally cold to touch

Any child under 5 who might have sepsis if they:

  • are not feeding
  • are vomiting repeatedly
  • have not had a wee or wet nappy for 12 hours

If you’re worried they’re deteriorating call NHS 111, or see your GP.

Links and resources