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Sepsis is life-threatening and can affect anyone.

If you suspect sepsis, go to an emergency room immediately.

Please err on the side of caution and seek medical assistance.

What is Sepsis?

Sepsis is a life-threatening reaction to an infection. It causes inflammation across large areas of the body and can damage tissue and organs. Sepsis requires immediate care in a hospital. Septic shock is sepsis that causes extremely low blood pressure, which limits blood flow to the body. It can cause organ failure and death.

Most of the time, sepsis is caused by a bacterial infection. Infections that can lead to sepsis include:

  • A skin infection such as from a cut.
  • A lung infection like pneumonia.
  • A kidney infection.
  • A gut infection such as E. coli.
Sepsis can occur in people of any age. But it is more common in infants, older adults, and people who have a compromised immune system that cannot fight infection. Sepsis can develop very quickly.

Signs of Sepsis

Sepsis causes a combination of symptoms. Symptoms may include breathing problems, a fast heartbeat, chills, cool clammy skin, skin rashes, and shaking. Other symptoms may include a fever or low body temperature, confusion, and low blood pressure.

If you are concerned about sepsis, go to the hospital immediately. Tell them you are concerned about sepsis.

Symptoms of Sepsis (Remember "TIME")

  • Temperature

    T = Temperature

    Body temperature usually rises to fight infection, causing a fever. People with sepsis may experience either high or low body temperature, so look for any abnormal body temperature. 

  • Infection

    I = Infection

    Common infections that may lead to sepsis include lung, skin, urinary tract, and abdominal infections. However, ANY infection can lead to sepsis.

  • Mental Decline

    M = Mental Decline

    Some people with sepsis show a sudden change in mental status, becoming confused, sleepy or difficult to rouse.

  • Extremely Sick

    E = Extremely Ill

    People with sepsis often report feeling the worst they have ever felt. Look for severe pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, fast heartbeat, chills/shaking, cool clammy skin, and/or a feeling that you may die.

Trusted Sepsis Resources

  • Sepsis Alliance

    This organization's mission is to save lives and reduce suffering by improving sepsis awareness and care. Find in-depth information about sepsis and sepsis prevention.

  • Society of Critical Care Medicine

    Adult and pediatric resources for post-ICU sepsis recovery.

  • Support for Sepsis Survivors

    Survivors may experience difficulty with memory, anxiety and depression, weakness, recurrent infection, and more. This video offers strategies for sepsis survivors and their families to help avoid future hospitalizations.

  • American Academy of Pediatrics

    English and Spanish resources specific to children from infants to adolescents and teenagers.

Are You Sick or Injured?

Are You Sick or Injured?

Use Our Symptom Checker for Advice

Our symptom checker offers educational information on various conditions, and provides advice regarding home care or first aid, when appropriate, as well as instructions on when you may need to call your provider, call 911, or go to an emergency department. It also offers dosage tables for common over-the-counter drugs.

The information in our symptom checker is designed with patient safety as the highest priority. Each care guide is reviewed by physicians, specialists and nurses for accuracy.

If you need additional advice regarding your sickness or injury, please contact your provider.

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