These are the signs and symptoms of sepsis to be aware of

Sepsis is a condition where the body’s immune system reacts abnormally to an infection or injury.

It develops when the chemicals that are released into the bloodstream to fight a localised infection are out of balance, causing inflammation that can damage tissue and multiple organ systems in the body.

Worryingly, the early onset symptoms are often confused with a fever or flu, but if it’s not treated quickly, sepsis can eventually lead to multiple organ failure and death.

Today, campaigners are urging people to read up on the warning signs, claiming that thousands of children may have needlessly died because a national symptom checklist hasn’t been signed off yet.

Tom Ray, who had his arms and legs amputated and part of his face removed after contracting sepsis from a cut to his gum at the dentist, is also calling for mandatory training on the condition,

The UK Sepsis Trust says between 1,000 and 4,000 under-fives die every year in the UK from the condition, while the NHS reports that there were 26,725 cases in 2015. One in four survivors of sepsis are left with life-altering health problems too.

The symptoms differ between adults and children so the warning signs won’t look the same in everyone.

Dr Ron Daniels, CEO of the UK Sepsis Trust said: “Many children who lose their lives to sepsis have underlying complex health problems. It is, thankfully less common for sepsis to strike a healthy and normal child. However, as tragic cases like Sam Morrish [who died in 2010 age three] and William Mead [who died in 2014 at 12 months old] remind us, this mustn’t mean we let our guard down.

View this post on Instagram

Don’t let Sepsis win. It kills 44,000 people every year in the UK and doesn’t discriminate. Text RIDE44 to 70070 to #beattheodds

A post shared by THE UK SEPSIS TRUST (@uksepsistrust) on

“There is no one shortlist of symptoms which describes the myriad ways in which sepsis can present in both adults and children. Children’s physiology is different, and the range of infections which gives rise to sepsis in children is slightly different from that in adults.”

He added: “This symptoms list provided by the UK Sepsis Trust is a guide; if a loved one is very unwell with an infection, and displays any of those symptoms, it’s imperative they go straight to A&E.”

What are the symptoms of sepsis in adults?

Sepsis can initially look like flu, gastroenteritis or a chest infection, say the charity.

You should seek medical help urgently if you (or another adult) develop any of these signs:

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

(Peter Byrne/PA)
(Peter Byrne/PA)

What are the symptoms of sepsis in children?

The trust say that if your child is unwell with either a fever or very low temperature (or has had a fever in the last 24 hours), you should call 999 and just ask: could it be sepsis?

A child may have sepsis if he or she:

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

A child under five may have sepsis if he or she:

Is not feeding

Is vomiting repeatedly

Has not passed urine for 12 hours

What should you do if you notice symptoms?

“The critical thing is that any parent who is very worried about their child with an infection must trust their instincts and be prepared to ask whether it could it be sepsis,” says Daniels.

Whenever there are signs of infection (and infection can be caused by anything from a small cut or insect bite to a chest infection or UTI), especially if you or a loved one deteriorating, it’s crucial to seek medical attention urgently.

“Just Ask: ‘Could it be sepsis?’ says Daniels. “With every hour that passes before the right antibiotics are administered, risk of death increases.”

- Press Association

More on this topic

Disruption to patients’ ops despite suspension of strike

Licencing issue could hit up to 600 festivals

Strike by 10,000 hospital support staff deferred to allow for talks at WRC

New system could cause delays for 15,000 patients seeking special medicines

More in this Section

Large and ambitious collaboration at Midsummer Festival

Mark Ronson: Groove is in the heart

Question of Taste: Olivia O'Leary chooses her favourite poets, music and films

Whatever happened to Duncan James from Blue?


Latest Showbiz

Love Island’s Joe Garratt insists he never tried to ‘control’ Lucie Donlan

Marvel boss reveals he has been trying to recruit Keanu Reeves

The Hills star Justin ‘Bobby’ Brescia says fame can ‘tear you apart’

Avengers: Endgame and Lil Nas among Teen Choice Awards nominees

More From The Irish Examiner