Blood poisoning

Diagnosing sepsis

Sepsis is often diagnosed based on simple measurements such as your temperature, heart rate, breathing rate and a simple blood test .

Other tests may help determine the type of infection, where it is located and which body functions have been affected. These can include:

  • blood and urine cultures (where a sample of blood or urine is tested for infections)
  • stool sample tests, if you have diarrhoea
  • blood pressure tests
  • a wound culture (where a small sample of tissue, skin or fluid is taken from the affected area for testing)
  • respiratory secretion testing (where a sample of your saliva, phlegm or mucus is taken for testing)
  • imaging studies such as an X-rayultrasound scan or computerised tomography (CT) scan
  • kidney, liver and heart function tests
  • lumbar puncture (where a sample of fluid is extracted from your spine for testing)

In the case of suspected sepsis, it is important to get a diagnosis as soon as possible so that appropriate treatment can be given. This can help stop the progression of sepsis and reduce the risk of long-term damage to the body, or death.

Read more about treating sepsis.

Last updated: 24 September 2015

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