Sepsis

Do you know how to spot this deadly blood disease that kills 44,000 people a year in the UK alone?

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Sepsis is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in the UK and is more commonly known as blood poisoning caused by infection.

What is it?

It occurs when your body’s response to an infection damages your own tissues and organs. In severe cases, it can lead to shock, multiple organ failure, and death, especially if it’s not recognised and treated quickly. Despite advances in modern medicine, sepsis is the leading cause of death from infection around the world and kills millions of people every year.

What should you look for?

Symptoms of sepsis usually develop quickly and include:

  • a fever or high temperature over 38C (100.4F)
  • chills or low temperature
  • a fast heartbeat
  • fast breathing.

In severe cases you may notice:

  • you feel dizzy when you stand up
  • confusion or disorientation
  • nausea and vomiting.

How can I help prevent it?

Sepsis is always caused by an infection, most often by bacteria, but sometimes by fungi or protozoa (such as malaria). That means that simply preventing infection is one of the best ways to prevent sepsis; good hand hygiene and good general hygiene practices, high levels of sanitation and nutrition can all help.

For centuries, our natural immune system has largely protected us from severe infections, but it does mean that those with weakened systems (like those suffering from other diseases or illnesses) are more at risk of developing sepsis.

We have trialled the latest innovations to detect sepsis in patients, and ambulance crews all have a pre-hospital screening tool so that those diagnosed can be treated as soon as possible.

More information is available from: