Septicaemia, also known as Sepsis

What is Sepsis?

Sepsis is a life-threatening illness caused by your body`s response to an infection, that can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death. In other words, it is your body over-active and toxic response to an infection. Your immune system protects you from many illnesses and infections, but it also possible for it to go into overdrive in response to an infection.

Sepsis develops when the chemicals the immune system releases into the bloodstream to fight an infection cause inflammation throughout the entire body instead. Severe cases of sepsis can lead to septic shock,which is a medical emergency.

Your immune system usually works to fight any germs bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites to prevent infection. If an infection does occur, the immune system will try to fight it although we may need help with medication such as antibiotics, anti-virals, anti-fungals and anti-parasites.

However, sometimes the immune system stops fighting the invaders and begins to turn on itself. This is the beginning of sepsis happening.

Some people are at higher risk of developing sepsis because they are at higher risk of contracting an infection. These include the very young or very old, those with chronic illnesses and those with a weakened or impaired immune system.



Because it can begin in different parts of the body, this illness can have many different symptoms. The first signs may include rapid breathing and confusion. Other common warning signs include:

  • Fever and chills
  • Very low body temperature
  • Peeing less than normal
  • Rapid pulse
  • Rapid breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea



Sepsis is not diagnosed based on an infection itself. If you have more than one of the symptoms, especially if there are signs of an infection, the doctor will likely suspect sepsis.

Sepsis progresses to severe sepsis when in addition to signs of sepsis, there are signs of organ dysfunction such as difficulty breathing (problem with the lungs), low or no urine output (problem with kidneys), abnormal liver tests (liver) and changes in mental status (problem with brain)

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