CPR First Aid

Sepsis Early Warning Signs and Treatment Options

Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening medical emergency that occurs when the body’s immune system aggressively attacks its own tissues and organs. Early signs of sepsis can be difficult to spot, but knowing what to look for can help you get treatment sooner and improve a person’s chances of survival. This post will discuss the early warning signs of sepsis and the treatment options available.

What is Sepsis?

Sepsis is a condition caused by the body’s response to an infection. The body’s immune system normally protects us from infection, but sometimes it overreacts. Sepsis takes place when chemicals released into the bloodstream to fight the infection cause inflammation throughout the body. This can lead to a cascade of events that can damage multiple organ systems, causing them to fail.

Sepsis: body's reaction to infection. Immune system overreacts, causing inflammation.

Prevalence of Sepsis in Australia

According to Clinical Excellence Queensland, approximately 5,000 of the 18,000 Australian adults who receive sepsis treatment in intensive care units each year result in death, which is twice the number of road accident deaths. Half of those who survive will have a lifelong disability or functional impairment.

If you haven’t taken a Southport first aid certification course yet and it is needed, reach out to CPR First Aid with your enquiries and we’ll be happy to guide you through getting certified from start to finish.

Causes of Sepsis

Sepsis can be caused by any infection, viral, bacterial, or fungal. However, certain infections are more likely to cause this condition, including:


Pneumonia can cause sepsis in a few ways. First, the infection can cause inflammation and fluid buildup in the lungs. This can lead to lung failure and a drop in blood oxygen levels. Low blood oxygen levels can damage organs and cause them to fail.

Sepsis can also occur when bacteria from the pneumonia infection enter the bloodstream. This can cause widespread infection throughout the body.

Finally, pneumonia can weaken the immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight off infection. This can lead to sepsis even if pneumonia itself is not severe.

Urinary tract infection

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a common cause of sepsis, especially in young children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems. The infection can spread from the bladder to the kidneys and other organs, causing severe illness. In some cases, the infection can lead to death.

Bloodstream infection (bacteremia)

Bacteremia is the presence of bacteria in the blood. While it may not cause any symptoms on its own, bacteremia can lead to sepsis, a life-threatening condition. Sepsis occurs when the body mounts an extreme immune response to infection, resulting in inflammation and organ damage. Bacteremia is a common cause of sepsis, and the two conditions are often difficult to distinguish from one another.

Skin infection

Sepsis can be brought on by skin infections that have penetrated deep enough to enter the bloodstream.

Kidney infection

Kidney infection can cause sepsis in a few different ways. One is by introducing bacteria into the bloodstream through the kidneys. This can happen if the infection is left untreated or if it spreads from the bladder to the kidneys.

Sepsis can also occur if there is an obstruction in the urinary tract that prevents urine from draining properly, which can cause bacteria to build up and spread. In some cases, a kidney infection can lead to an abscess, which is a collection of pus that can rupture and release bacteria into the bloodstream.

Finally, a kidney infection can cause inflammation of the kidneys leading to sepsis.

Certain types of bacteria are more likely to cause sepsis, including:

  • Staphylococcus aureus (including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA)
  • Streptococcus pneumonia
  • Escherichia coli (E. coli)
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Fungal infections, particularly those that occur in the lungs, can also lead to sepsis. People with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to fungal infections and sepsis.

Signs and Symptoms of Sepsis

Sepsis can manifest in different ways from person to person. They may come on suddenly or develop over time. In general, these include:

  • Fever (this is sometimes the only sign in young children)
  • Chills and shivering
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Fast breathing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Severe pain or discomfort
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Slurred speech

If you or someone you are caring for has any of these signs or symptoms, seek medical help immediately.

Sepsis varies person to person. It can emerge abruptly or gradually. Manifestations encompass:

Would sepsis cause your bones to hurt?

Sepsis often starts with an infection in another part of the body, such as the lungs, urinary tract, or skin. The infection can spread through the bloodstream to the bones, where it can cause bone pain. It can also cause inflammation of the joints, which can lead to joint pain.

Who Is At Risk?

An infection in the bloodstream can affect anyone, but some people are at greater risk than others. People most at risk of developing sepsis include:

  • infants and young children
  • older adults
  • people with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, or lung or heart disease
  • people with weakened immune systems from conditions such as HIV/AIDS or chemotherapy
  • people who have had recent surgery or trauma, especially if they have an open wound
  • people who have injected drugs
  • pregnant women and women who have recently given birth

Common Complications of Sepsis in Southport QLD

If not treated promptly, sepsis can lead to multiple organ failures and death. Early diagnosis and treatment of sepsis are critical to improving the chances of survival. Otherwise, it can progress to: 

Organ failure

Sepsis causes organ failure in up to 50 percent of people who develop the condition. Organ failure most often occurs in the lungs, kidneys, and liver. 


Shock is a medical emergency that occurs when your blood pressure drops to a dangerously low level and your organs don’t get enough oxygen. 

Mental decline or delirium

Sepsis can also lead to confusion and other changes in mental status. 

Loss of limbs

In some cases, sepsis may cause tissue death and the need for amputation of an arm or leg. 

Permanent organ damage

The lungs, heart, and brain are particularly vulnerable to long-lasting or irreversible organ damage from sepsis. 

Recurrent sepsis

Once you’ve had sepsis, you’re at risk of developing it again in the future.

Sepsis Treatment and Prevention

The body is a natural shield from infection but can still be challenged due to infection. There are many different types of treatment for sepsis depending on the severity of the condition. 

In mild cases, antibiotics may be all that is necessary to clear the infection. More severe cases may require hospitalisation and aggressive supportive care, including intravenous fluids and medications to stabilise blood pressure. In the most severe cases, sepsis can lead to organ failure and death.

The best way to prevent sepsis is to avoid infections in the first place. Good hygiene, prompt treatment of illnesses, and vaccinations can all help reduce your risk of developing sepsis.

Are There First Aid Steps for Sepsis?

Sepsis can become an emergency case if it is not detected early and the person’s condition worsens and progresses to septic shock. There are steps you can take if you suspect someone has sepsis.

  1. Assess the person’s signs and symptoms of sepsis.
  2. Call 000 or go to the nearest emergency room if you suspect it is sepsis.
  3. Follow the instructions of medical professionals until help arrives.
  4. Make sure the patient is hydrated by letting him or her drink plenty of fluids.
  5. Monitor the patient’s condition.

A Cnr Ferry Rd and, Cotlew St E, Southport 4215 first aid certification is required and beneficial in the workplace, can be useful at home and in the community setting. For more information, contact CPR First Aid RTO 21903.

In conclusion, sepsis is life-threatening to anyone but can be difficult to detect early on. Therefore, it is imperative to be aware of the causes so that proper preventive measures can be put into place for everyone’s health and safety.

"Sepsis can turn urgent if not caught early, leading to septic shock. Take action if suspecting sepsis."

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