1,500 children have died in the UK from Sepsis in the last 14 months – but what is Sepsis and what are the signs?

Sepsis is when the immune system responds to an infection by attacking the body’s own organs and tissues.  Sepsis can affect anyone at any time but it does tend to strike the very old or very young.  Without quick and timely treatment sepsis can lead to septic shock, multi-organ failure and in some cases, death.

What are the signs of Sepsis?

Sepsis can initially feel like flu, gastroenteritis or a chest infection.  If you develop any of the following you must seek medical help urgently:

Slurred speech or confusion
Extreme shivering or muscle pain
Passing no urine (in a day)
It feels like you’re going to die
Skin is mottled or discoloured

What are the signs of Sepsis in children?

  • a high fever OR very low temperature
  • child complains that their heart is racing or is beating much slower than usual
  • is irritable or confused
  • has a ‘fit’ or convulsion
  • skin looks mottled, bluish or pale
  • has a rash that doesn’t fade when you press it
  • is lethargic or difficult to wake up
  • feels unusually cold to touch
  • there has been a drop in or no urine output

What are the signs of Sepsis in babies?

  • change in body temperature
  • breathing problems – possibly seems to stop breathing for more than 10 seconds
  • skin looks mottled, bluish or pale OR if the skin and whites of the eyes look yellow (jaundiced)
  • no interest in feeding or is vomiting
  • passing urine less than normally or has no wet nappies
  • is either floppy or limbs are too stiff
  • bulging or fullness of the ‘soft spot’ on the top of the baby’s head

If your child or baby has any of the above signs call 999 and ask ‘Could it be Sepsis?’

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