When an infection is not treated properly, the result can be sepsis — a physical reaction that can have grave, even life-threatening consequences such as organ failure. Here, some details on the condition so you can spot symptoms and stay safe.

Most common causes of sepsis

  • Lung infections (including pneumonia)

  • Urinary tract infections (including kidney and bladder)

  • Skin infections

  • Infections of the gut

  • Other ills caused by Staphylococcus (staph), Streptococcal (strep), Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria and others

People age 65 or older or who have weakened immune systems are at increased risk for sepsis.

Most common symptoms of sepsis

  • Fever, shivers or feeling very cold

  • Extreme pain or discomfort

  • Clammy or sweaty skin

  • Confusion or disorientation

  • Shortness of breath

  • Rapid heart rate

If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.

Steps you can take to combat sepsis

  • Make sure you’ve recently been vaccinated for harmful infections such as influenza or pneumonia. If you’re not sure, talk with your doctor.

  • Act immediately if you notice any of the above symptoms or other signs of infection. Sepsis is treated immediately — often with antibiotics — in a hospital setting.