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Sepsis is a serious condition that occurs when the body overreacts to an infection. It is also called systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) with infection. An infection is usually caused by bacteria that attack the body. The body's defense system normally fights off infection within the affected body part. With sepsis, the body overreacts and causes symptoms to occur throughout the body. This leads to uncontrolled and widespread inflammation and clotting in small blood vessels. Blood flow to different body parts decreases and may lead to organ failure. Sepsis requires immediate treatment.


Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Prevent infection:

The following are ways that you can help prevent infection, which can lead to sepsis:

  • Ask about vaccines: Vaccines can decrease your risk of getting certain infections, such as the flu or pneumonia. Ask your healthcare provider if you should get a flu or pneumonia vaccine, and when to get the vaccine.
  • Avoid the spread of germs:
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Carry germ-killing gel with you. You can use the gel to clean your hands when there is no soap and water available.
    • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth unless you have washed your hands first.
    • Always cover your mouth when you cough. Cough into a tissue or your shirtsleeve so you do not spread germs from your hands.
    • Try to avoid people who have a cold or the flu. If you are sick, stay away from others as much as possible.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have increased swelling in your legs, feet, or abdomen.
  • You are short of breath or you cough up blood.
  • You have a fast heart rate and your chest hurts.
  • You feel so dizzy that you have trouble standing up.
  • Your lips or fingernails are blue.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Sepsis (Discharge Care)

Associated drugs

Micromedex® Care Notes

Mayo Clinic Reference