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What is Sepsis?

Sepsis is a life-threatening infection; it is when your immune system overreacts to an infection and starts to damage your body’s own tissues and organs.

Sepsis is called septicaemia or blood poisoning.

Who is likely to get Sepsis?

Anyone with an infection can get sepsis.

People who are more susceptible are:

  • Babies under 1 – especially if they are premature, or the mother had an infection during pregnancy.
  • People over 75.
  • People with diabetes.
  • People with a weakened immune system.
  • People who have had recent surgery or a serious illness.

Sepsis is not contagious so you cannot catch it from someone else.

How to help prevent infections

It isn’t always possible to prevent sepsis but there are a few things to reduce the risk.

  • Keep up with vaccines
  • Clean and take care of any wounds
  • Take antibiotics correctly, following administering instructions and completing the course prescribed to you.
  • Wash your hands regularly.


Sepsis needs to be treated immediately – if you suspect sepsis then you should go straight to the hospital because deterioration can happen very quickly.

When you get to the hospital you will be put on antibiotics within an hour of arriving at the hospital.

If sepsis is not treated early, it can turn in to septic shock and cause your organs to fail – this is life threatening.

Other treatments you will get depending on your symptoms and severity.

  • Treatment in an intensive care unit
  • Being put on a ventilator to help you breathe
  • Surgery to remove areas of infection
  • You may need to stay in hospital for several weeks.


It takes time to recover fully from sepsis. You might continue to have emotional and physical symptoms that can last week’s/months/years.

If people have long term effects it is sometimes called post-sepsis syndrome, and can include

  • Feeling very tired and weak, and difficulty sleeping
  • Lack of appetite
  • Prone to getting ill more frequently
  • Changes in your mood, anxiety or feeling depressed.
  • Nightmares
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Most symptoms of post-sepsis should get better on their own.

There are things you can do to help

  • Do some gentle easy exercises to build your strength
  • Get regular sleep
  • Try to prevent infections by washing your hands regularly
  • Try to eat little and often if you have a small appetite
  • Do not rush your recovery – it takes time to recover so you need to be gentle with.

If you are concerned about anything when recovering, then your GP will be happy to help with any side effects and will give treatment and support for emotional symptoms.

*Featured image by prostooleh on Freepik