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5 Signs of Sepsis

By on August 25, 2016

According to a new Vital Signs report released by CDC, 80% of people who get sepsis develop this often deadly complication outside of a hospital. Sepsis is a complication caused by the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection.

A CDC evaluation found 7 in 10 patients with sepsis had recently used health care services or had chronic diseases requiring frequent medical care.

Four types of infections are most often associated with sepsis: lung, urinary tract, skin, and gut.

Sepsis can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death. The signs and symptoms of sepsis include:

  • Shivering, fever, or feeling very cold.
  • Extreme pain or discomfort.
  • Clammy or sweaty skin.
  • Confusion or disorientation.
  • Shortness of breath and high heart rate.

Because majority of patients with sepsis had chronic diseases requiring medical care, these can be opportunities for health care providers to prevent, recognize and treat sepsis long before it can cause life-threatening illness or death.

When sepsis is quickly recognized and treated, lives can be saved.


CDC advises health care providers to take these steps to protect patients from infections that can lead to sepsis and to help prevent infections from occurring:

  • Prevent infections. Follow infection control requirements, such as hand washing, and ensure patients get recommended vaccines, such as flu and pneumococcal.
  • Educate patients and their families. Stress the need to prevent infections, manage chronic conditions, and, if an infection is not improving, promptly seek care. Don’t delay.
  • Think sepsis. Know the signs and symptoms to identify and treat patients early.
  • Act fast. If sepsis is suspected, order tests to help determine whether an infection is present and identify its location and source. Start antibiotics and other recommended medical care immediately.
  • Reassess patient management. Check patient progress frequently. Reassess antibiotic therapy in 24-48 hours or sooner and change therapy as needed. Determine whether the type of antibiotics, dose and duration are correct.

For more information about sepsis, see the Vital Signs report.


Content for this article provided by the Department of Health and Human Services website.