News

Sepsis symptoms you shouldn’t ignore – from muscle pain to shivering

Sepsis occurs when your immune system overreacts to an infection – and stars to attack the body’s own tissues and organs.

It can be life-threatening as it causes a chain reaction throughout the body.

Body parts mostly affected by sepsis include the lungs, urinary tract, skin or the gastrointestinal tract.

Sepsis was recently thrown into the spotlight after BBC Scotland journalist Sarah McMullan announced her ordeal with the condition which saw her in the hospital for six days.

The presenter failed to spot her symptoms, despite recently interviewing a woman who nearly died from it only weeks before her ordeal.

With this in mind, what are the main symptoms of sepsis you should know.

What is sepsis?
Sepsis is also known as blood poisoning, and is the body’s extreme reaction to an infection.

Shockingly, five people die with sepsis every hour in the UK, yet despite these statistics not much is known about it.

A healthy immune system is one which is able to fight off infections and viruses but occasionally, a person’s immune system can actually attack its own body’s organs and tissues resulting in sepsis.

“If not treated immediately, sepsis can result in organ failure and death. Yet with early diagnosis, it can be treated with antibiotics,” warns The UK Sepsis Trust.

Symptoms of sepsis
Here are some of the most common signs of sepsis, which you should never ignore:

  • A high temperature or fever
  • Chills and shivering
  • A fast heartbeat
  • Fast breathing
  • Muscle pain
  • Slurred speech or confusion
  • Passing no urine
  • Breathlessness
  • Mottled skin or discolouration
  • Feeling as if you’re going to die

Check if your child is at risk of sepsis by noticing if:

  • Their breathing is very fast
  • Are they having a ‘fit’ or convulsion
  • Noticing a mottled, bluish, or pale skin
  • They have a rash that does not fade when you press it
  • Are they very lethargic or difficult to wake
  • Do they feel abnormally cold to touch.

For children aged under five years old, signs may include:

  • Not feeding
  • Vomiting repeatedly
  • Not passed urine for 12 hours.

For Sarah her initial symptoms were when she was doing the morning bulletin and began to feel very cold and had goose bumps.

She had told a colleague that she was “really not right.”

She said: “Then I started physically shaking and all the colour drained from my face.

“My lips were turning blue. My hands were chalk white, like you had been standing outside in winter for hours.

“There was no colour in my skin. There was no heat in my body. It was uncontrolled shivering and shaking.”

Sarah felt as if she was “spaced out” and worried it may be a “panic attack.”

A very high temperature then proceeded these symptoms causing her to cry and worry about what was going on with her.

Fortunately, after six days in the hospital Sarah made a full recovery but wants to warn others about the dangers of sepsis and being aware of any unusual symptoms.

If you think you or someone else has symptoms of sepsis, you should call 999 or go to A&E immediately.