8 Warning Symptoms Of Sepsis, And Who Is At Risk Of This Dangerous Condition

Lifestyle & Health

Sepsis can be described as the body's extreme reaction to an infection. Without prompt treatment, sepsis can escalate to septic shock, which is life-threatening. Sepsis can result from an ongoing infection; the most common infections to cause sepsis include appendicitis, kidney infections, pneumonia, and skin or soft tissue infections.

Sepsis affects more than 1 million Americans annually, and 15 to 30 percent of those affected don't survive. To be able to recognize sepsis and get the life-saving treatment in time, you need to learn the signs and symptoms of this dangerous condition.

READ ALSO: Trophic Ulcers: Symptoms, Causes, Who Is At Risk, And How To Prevent Them

8 symptoms of sepsis

1. Fever

When your body is fighting an infection, your body temperature increases to kill the germs. When sepsis develops, an increase in body temperature occurs.

2. Low body temperature

Fever is a more common symptom, but a drop in body temperature can also occur in people with sepsis. A decrease in body temperature can be a sign of a more severe case of sepsis.

3. Cold and pale skin

When sepsis develops, the body sends more blood to the vital organs (such as the heart, brain, and kidneys) to keep them functioning, and the blood flow to other organs and body parts becomes reduced. It can manifest in cold, pale, or mottled skin.

4. Low urine output

Sepsis can cause dehydration, and that leads to urinating less often and producing less urine.

5. Increased heart rate

If you have an infection and your heart beats so fast like it's going to jump out of your chest, it can be a sign of sepsis. If you have sepsis, your heart has to work extra hard to deliver blood to the damaged tissues and organs. A heart rate faster than 90 beats per minute is a sign of trouble.

6. Breathlessness

Sepsis leads to being out of breath, taking more than 20 breaths per minute. As the infection gets worse, your body starts to need more oxygen, so your breathing rate becomes faster.

7. Altered state of consciousness

Confusion, disorientation, reduced alertness, and feeling dizzy or lightheaded are symptoms that can appear in those affected by sepsis. These symptoms get much worse when a person goes into septic shock. Loss of consciousness is also possible.

8. Pain and weakness

When sepsis develops, you can feel pain at the site of the infection and/or all over your body. Muscle weakness can also be a sign of sepsis.

READ ALSO: How People Can Become Infected With Tetanus, And Warning Symptoms Of This Dangerous Infection

Who is at a higher risk of developing sepsis?

Anyone with an ongoing infection can develop sepsis, but certain groups of people are at a higher risk. These include the following:

  • infants;
  • older adults (over age 65);
  • intensive care unit patients;
  • people whose immune system is weakened, such as those with HIV/AIDS or people undergoing chemotherapy;
  • people with chronic health conditions, such as diabetes or kidney disease.

Is there a way to prevent sepsis?

Sepsis isn’t always preventable, but you can take steps to lower the risk of developing it by avoiding infections and treating them in time. These measures include the following:

  • if you have signs of an infection, and if it’s not getting better, get prompt treatment;
  • ask your doctor whether you need any vaccines;
  • if you get a cut or another injury that broke the skin, keep the wound clean and watch it for signs of infection.
  • wash your hands regularly, and don’t touch your face with unwashed hands.

Sepsis is a serious, life-threatening condition. If you recognize the symptoms of sepsis, get emergency medical help.

Source: Sepsis Alliance, HealthLine, CDC, Women's Health Magazine

READ ALSO: 11 Warning Signs Of Hepatitis C And How To Prevent It


This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.

War