What is sepsis?
Sepsis (also known as 'septicaemia' or 'blood poisoning') is a serious blood infection caused by bacteria.
Sepsis is a medical emergency and can be fatal if not treated quickly. If you suspect you or someone else has sepsis, call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.
What causes sepsis?
Sepsis can start with any bacterial infection. That infection can be in the bladder, or in the chest, or even on the skin. But the infection worsens and spreads through the blood. The body's immune reaction can make things worse, not better, and it can cause a sudden, untreatable drop in blood pressure called septic shock.
The symptoms of sepsis vary. They may include:
If sepsis gets worse, symptoms may include:
Further problems of sepsis
Bacteria in the blood may infect other organs, causing inflammation of the:
- lining of the brain (meningitis)
- abdomen (peritonitis)
- inner layer of the heart (endocarditis)
- joints (septic arthritis).
Sepsis can also lead to septic shock.
Immediate treatment is important.
A person with sepsis will need to be treated in hospital since it is a serious condition and can be fatal. There, they will receive antibiotics and intravenous fluids.
Last reviewed: September 2015