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Sepsis happens when an infection spreads and causes your body to react strongly to germs. Your body's defense system normally releases chemicals to fight off infection at the infected area. When infection spreads, chemicals are released throughout your body. The chemicals cause inflammation and clotting in small blood vessels that is difficult to control. Inflammation and clotting decrease blood flow and oxygen to your organs. This may cause your organs to stop working correctly. Sepsis is a life-threatening emergency.


Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • 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.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have increased swelling in your legs, feet, or abdomen.
  • Your lips or fingernails are blue.

Call your doctor if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have muscle or joint pain.
  • You begin to have trouble sleeping, nightmares, or panic attacks.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Medicines help treat an infection or decrease your symptoms.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Prevent infection:

  • Wash your hands often. Use soap and water. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, change a child's diapers, or sneeze. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth unless you have washed your hands first. Wash your hands before you prepare or eat food. Carry hand sanitizer with you. You can use it to clean your hands when soap and water are not available.
  • Prevent the spread of germs. Try to stay away from people who have a cold or the flu. If you are sick, stay away from others as much as possible.
  • Ask your healthcare provider about vaccines you may need. Vaccines can help prevent some infections that may lead to sepsis. Get a flu vaccine every year as soon as recommended, usually in September or October.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

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

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Sepsis (Discharge Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Mayo Clinic Reference Guides (External)

Further information

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