Signs and Symptoms of Sepsis

Common symptoms of sepsis are fever, chills, rapid breathing and heart rate, rash, confusion and disorientation. Many of these symptoms, such as fever and difficulty breathing, mimic other conditions, making sepsis hard to diagnose in its early stages.

How do doctors confirm a diagnosis of sepsis?

Typically a blood test is performed to reveal if the number of white blood cells is abnormal, a common sign of the condition, and to assess the function of bodily organs. Other than detecting bacteria in the bloodstream there is no one test that can specifically confirm or rule out a diagnosis of sepsis.

Blood and other bodily fluids such as urine and sputum are also tested for the presence of bacteria and other infectious agents. X-ray and scans may be performed to identify or confirm the source of the infection.

Especially in children, if meningitis is suspected a lumbar puncture may be performed to obtain a sample of spinal fluid.

Additional information regarding symptoms of sepsis can be found at the Sepsis Alliance website.