Blood poisoning

Symptoms of sepsis

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

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 include:

  • a fever or high temperature over 38C (100.4F)
  • chills
  • a fast heartbeat
  • fast breathing
  • confusion or delirium

Symptoms of severe sepsis or septic shock include:

  • low blood pressure that makes you feel dizzy when you stand up
  • a change in your mental state, such as confusion or disorientation
  • diarrhoea  
  • nausea and vomiting
  • cold, clammy and pale skin

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

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

Last updated: 26 March 2014

Continue to next section: Causes of sepsis