Signs and Symptoms of Sepsis

What you need to know about this rare but serious condition.

Did you know sepsis is a common condition seen in hospitals across the United States? Most sepsis cases are recoverable, if treated quickly, and it’s important to know the signs and symptoms so you can be prepared.

Sepsis, although rare, is an extreme and toxic response to an infection in the body that can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death. Anyone, including vulnerable populations, is susceptible to developing sepsis. This includes infants, seniors, those with chronic illnesses, and individuals with a weakened immune system.

The Sepsis Alliance shares the TIME method as a simple way to learn if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of sepsis.

  • Temperature: Is the body temperature higher or lower than normal? A normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit and anything higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit is considered a fever.
  • Infection: Does the individual have signs and symptoms of infection, such as at the site of a cut/injury, or a fever, fatigue or pain?
  • Mental decline: Is the individual confused, sleepy or having difficulty waking?
  • Extremely ill: Is the individual in severe pain, having shortness of breath, or experiencing discomfort? This is often reported as feeling the sickest one has ever been or feeling the worst amount of pain ever.

There are many ways to prevent sepsis. including vaccination for viral infections such as influenza or COVID-19, properly caring for wounds, treating infections if you are ill, hand washing and proper hygiene, and staying away from others who are ill.

If you or someone you know is thought to be in septic shock, time is critical. According to the non-profit awareness group Sepsis Alliance, for every hour that care is delayed, the risk of death increases by 8%. Seek emergency care immediately or call 911.

– Katherine Reese, RN
Quality Coordinator at Northern Nevada Sierra Medical Center