Sepsis

Sepsis is a rare but serious complication of an infection, where the body’s immune system goes into overdrive, setting off a series of reactions that can lead to organ failure, and in some cases, death.

If you see a child displaying one of the following symptoms you should take them to the nearest Accident and Emergency (A&E) immediately.

  • Looks mottled, bluish or pale
  • Is very lethargic or difficult to wake
  • Feels abnormally cold to touch
  • Is breathing very fast
  • Has a rash that does not fade when you press it
  • Has a fit or convulsion

Anyone can develop sepsis after an injury or minor infection, although some people are at higher risk such as those with a weakened immune system, a serious illness, the very young or very old, or those who have just had surgery or wounds as a result of an accident. 

The UK Sepsis Trust estimates that more than 120,000 people suffer from sepsis each year, including 37,000 deaths every year.

If sepsis is detected early and hasn't affected vital organs yet, it may be possible to treat the infection at home with antibiotics. Most people who have sepsis detected at this stage make a full recovery.

Almost all people with severe sepsis and septic shock require admission to hospital. Some people may require admission to an intensive care unit (ICU).

Because of problems with vital organs, people with severe sepsis are likely to be very ill and the condition can be fatal.

However, sepsis is treatable if it is identified and treated quickly, and in most cases leads to a full recovery with no lasting problems.