Sepsis - Symptoms 

Symptoms of sepsis 

The symptoms of sepsis may develop after a localised infection (infection limited to one part of the body) or an injury.

The most common sites of infection leading to sepsis are the lungs, urinary tract, abdomen (tummy), and pelvis.

In some cases, sepsis may develop when you are already in hospital, for example if you have recently had surgery and a drip or catheter has been connected to your body. Read more about the causes of sepsis.

The symptoms of sepsis usually develop quickly and can include:

  • a high temperature (fever)
  • chills and shivering
  • a fast heartbeat
  • fast breathing

In some cases, symptoms of more severe sepsis or septic shock (when your blood pressure drops to a dangerously low level) can develop within hours. These can include:

  • feeling dizzy or faint
  • a change in mental state, such as confusion or disorientation
  • diarrhoea 
  • nausea and vomiting
  • slurred speech
  • severe muscle pain
  • severe breathlessness
  • decreased urine production (for example, not urinating for a day)
  • cold, clammy and pale or mottled skin
  • loss of consciousness

When to seek medical advice

See your GP immediately if you have recently had an infection or injury and you have possible early signs of sepsis.

Severe sepsis and septic shock are medical emergencies. If you think that you or someone in your care has one of these conditions, call 999 and ask for an ambulance.


Page last reviewed: 21/03/2014

Next review due: 21/03/2016

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The 3 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

whizzwheels said on 06 April 2014

in 2010 i contracted sepsis due too a very bad uti and very low blood pressure 54/32 .got taken into ninewells hosp Dundee .immediately got obs and blood taken and instantly put on a drip,fluids were squeezed through by 2 nurses on the ward at least 10 bags of fluid were put through me too try and get blood pressure up,later that night got transferred too ICU as HDU was full too be monitored and more fluids after 1 day in ICU was back up too urology. was roughly in for 5 days home for 3 weeks then afraid back in after 3 weeks this time too admissions then with same symptoms but not as severe , this time i ended up in HDU too be again monitored and loads of fluids .with thanks too all great nursing staff/doctors too in ICU,HDU admissions ward and urology staff of Ninewells hospital Dundee i was back home roughly a week later was a scary time but came through it .

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nakisaka said on 03 April 2014

My daughter suffered with Staphylococcus Septecimia in August last yr, oh it was awful. My daughter has suffered with eczema of the skin over the years it has went through good and bad stages but, from November 2012 she had went through hell, she had infection after infection with her skin and it was that bad that in March 2013 the dermatologist had prescribed aziathioprine medication which can be used to treat cancer she was on this for a couple of months but suffered bad side effects and then they put her on another and another. Then 1 day in August she wasnt very well so we took her to the out of hours doctors, she had high blood pressure and a fast pulse and a rash but the Dr put it down to a virus, so the next day she was still feeling bad and she went to her own gp whom basically said the same but, on her way to the pharmacy she was in agony and the lady phoned a taxi and sent her home . I haad to come down and help her upstairs so I phone dr and complained they sent an ambulance so to cut this story short they sent her to hospital whilst in agony etc they decided she had a urine infection and sent her home , over the next two days she got worst and was being sick and could hardly walk and we received an answer phone message from a dr at the hospital , that my daughter had blood poisoning and she would have to come in asap so she spent a week in hospital and a further 4 weeks on oral antibiotics. Just be careful with being fobbed off as my daughter didn't present to the doctors with the normal septis type rash or even a temperature.

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wheelygirl76 said on 25 February 2014

I had a Sepsis in sept.2012 and found myself suffering the bizarrest of symptoms that actually made me think I was going mad!It was most likely an untreated kidney Infection that started it all off!And,alongside of the fevers,cold sweats and normal symtoms you'd expect to see I was having episodes that I had no idea what was going on with me!My husband was finding me either in the bathroom or sitting up in my wheelchair,just staring into the room in the middle of the night,or he found me onthe floor....half naked!The weekend before I actually ended up in hospital,I remember going to work on the friday evening,coming back with a huge fever aheadache and going to bed!The next thing I remember it was sunday 5p.m!I later heard the weirdest things I seemed tohave done!I lost an entire weekend!During the week that followed I developed a rash,that still left scarres and I had blood taken,and that was almost impossible! All 5 wounds were bleeding for days! My INR was huge and on the day before I went into hospital I was starting to be incapable of sitting up,as my entire body would start fitting!Sadly my trust in doctors is very bad,as I have suffered of medical negligence,that left me paralised from the waist down!Anybody else would have long gone,but I was to scared!But on the saturday morning,I tried to get up into my chair,and I half made it when my body just seized and I actually broke my left hip during that seizure!I managed to scream for my husband and then started vomiting blood and fitting!In the ambulance I was dying ,my kidneys were failing and during the trip my heary stopped!I remember as good as nothing from the next 3Days! But,thanks to an incredible Team in Resus and Intensive Care from The Royal Bournemouth Hospital,and a lot of donated Blood Units,I survived! All I can say is that I waited way to long to get help! And it almost cost me my life!This sepsis has reacked havok with my body!Go to hospital or this can kill you!

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