Sepsis PosterSepsis is a life-threatening illness caused by your body’s response to an infection. Without timely treatment, it can rapidly lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death. The majority of cases of sepsis are due to bacterial infection.

Family caregivers of older adults play an important role in preventing infections and recognizing sepsis early.

Primary symptoms include: confusion or disorientation, fast respiratory rate, and low blood pressure.  However, patients may have many other signs and symptoms that can occur with sepsis, such as:

  • high heart rate
  • fever, shivering or very cold
  • extreme pain or discomfort
  • clammy or sweaty skin
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • facial flushing
  • shortness of breath
  • low urine production
  • skin discoloration
  • dysfunction of one or more organs
  • shock
  • sleepiness

Risk factors that lead to sepsis can be reduced by many methods. Perhaps the most important way to reduce the chance for sepsis is to first prevent any infections. Vaccines, good hygiene, hand washing, and avoiding sources of infection are excellent preventive methods. If infection occurs, seek immediate treatment before it has a chance to spread into the blood.

Getting the right antibiotic at the right time, in the right dose, and for the right duration, helps fight antibiotic resistance, protects patients from unnecessary side effects from antibiotics, and helps make sure life-saving antibiotics will work when we need them in the future

Learn more about antibiotic use and how you can Be Antibiotics Aware.

To learn more about preventing infections that can lead to sepsis, visit Get Ahead of Sepsis.


Contributor: Barb Anderson MT AAB, Patient Care Manager, Infection Prevention, Knoxville Hospital and Clinics

The information on this blog is provided for general information purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, care, treatment or evaluation; nor should it be used in diagnosing a health condition. You are encouraged to consult your health care provider if you or a family member has or suspect you have a medical problem.