Information for the public

Am I likely to have sepsis?

It's important to remember that not everyone who gets sepsis has a high temperature or fever. So if you feel very unwell but have a normal temperature you should still speak to your healthcare professional.

If you are likely to be more at risk of sepsis (see who is more at risk of sepsis?), or if it looks as though you might have an infection, your healthcare professional should think about whether you might have sepsis.

They should check for anything that could mean you might have sepsis, such as:

  • feeling or acting differently than normal (they should also ask any relatives or carers who are with you if you don't seem your usual self)

  • problems with, or changes in, your circulation (blood flow)

  • problems with, or changes in, your breathing.

As sepsis can be hard to spot, anything you can tell your healthcare professional can help them to help you.

They should also ask about how you have been lately and if you have had any recent illnesses or injuries.

Depending on your answers to the questions, the healthcare professional may also check your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing.

They will use all the information they collect to decide:

  • whether you have suspected sepsis,

  • how high your risk is of life-threatening illness from sepsis, and

  • if you need to have urgent treatment or more checks.

Looking for sepsis in babies and children

If your healthcare professional decides that your baby or child might have sepsis they should:

  • ask you if they have been acting differently

  • ask you if they seem more upset

  • ask if they have been crying in a different way

  • ask if they seem a lot more sleepy than normal

  • ask how many wet nappies they've had, or how often they have gone to the toilet

  • check their temperature, breathing and heart rate

  • make sure they're responding to what's going on around them.

They will also look for signs of infection, such as:

  • blue skin, lips or tongue (this is called cyanosis)

  • a blotchy (mottled) or very pale or grey (ashen) appearance

  • cold hands or feet

  • a rash that doesn't go away when you press on the skin (non-blanching).

As a parent or carer you know your child best. If you feel your child is still not well or isn't getting better you should seek medical help even if they've been seen by a healthcare professional already.

Questions you could ask about sepsis

  • Can you tell me more about sepsis?

  • What may have caused me to get sepsis?

  • Can you provide any information about sepsis for me and my family or carers?

  • Information Standard