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Here's what you need to know about Sepsis

Sepsis Awareness Month image
Blog

/ by UK HealthCare

Sepsis is the body’s overwhelming response to infection or injury. It can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, amputations, and death.

Sepsis is caused by an infection. The infection can be viral, bacterial, or fungal, or caused by a parasite. It can be an infection that started in a paper cut or bug bite, or a larger infection, like pneumonia or meningitis. Sometimes, doctors never learn what caused the infection.

Sepsis is more likely to affect very young children, older adults, people with chronic illnesses, and those with weakened immune systems. Sepsis affects people of all ages and levels of health.

Sepsis affects nearly 49 million people worldwide each year and is the most common killer of children, resulting in the deaths of more than 3.4 million children each year.

More than 1.7 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with sepsis each year, resulting in 270,000 deaths.

Sepsis in children is often difficult to recognize, and it can look like many other disease processes. Symptoms of pediatric sepsis include:

  • Fever or low body temperature
  • Tachycardia (high heart rate) or bradycardia (low heart rate) in kids under 1 year old
  • Tachypnea (fast breathing)
  • Altered perfusion- cold, mottled skin
  • Low blood pressure
  • Altered mental status- very sleepy or very fussy and inconsolable
  • Lethargy
  • Mottled, bluish or very pale skin

You can’t always prevent sepsis, but the risk drops when you take steps to prevent or treat infections as quickly as possible. You can do this by staying current with vaccinations, practicing good hygiene, and seeking medical help when you suspect you have an infection.

People who have survived sepsis often say that they felt the worst they ever felt in their life. For example, they had the worst sore throat of their life, the worst stomach pain, etc. If you’re worried you or your child have developed sepsis, call your doctor or bring your child to the UK HealthCare emergency room for evaluation.

For more information visit our Kentucky Children’s Hospital web page, or call 859-323-5000.

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