It is important to recognize the signs of early sepsis and immediately seek treatment because the infection can spread rapidly -- often in a matter of hours. Sepsis occurs when an infection in the body enters the bloodstream and spreads throughout the body; this can lead to septic shock, a potentially fatal condition. Some of the earliest signs of sepsis include a high fever, a feeling of fatigue, an increased heart rate, rapid breathing or breathing difficulty. Experts generally look for at least two symptoms to suspect and diagnose sepsis. A diagnosed infection is also one of these symptoms.
If the original source of the infection is on the surface of the body, one of the best indicators of early sepsis is the presence of red streaks coming off the area and moving up the infected limb. Not all infections are superficial however, which is why the other signs of early sepsis are also important to recognize.
Infections will often present a fever that steadily increases. As the fever increases, muscle pain and weakness may become present, and some people may experience pain in the joints as well. This fever may also cause chills, and some people notice that they become dizzy and shaky, both due to the fever and a corresponding drop in blood pressure.
Accompanied by the chills and fever, the signs of early sepsis also often include a rapid heartbeat and quick breathing. People may find that they cannot slow the breathing or the heart rate down no matter how much they try to relax and take deep breaths. These symptoms will also worsen as the infection progresses through the body. The signs of early sepsis typically only last for a little while; if they are not addressed with emergency treatment with antibiotics, other, more serious symptoms will quickly become apparent.
Some individuals will develop a rash on the skin in addition to the red streaks. This rash can show up anywhere on the body. In addition, urine output will generally decrease significantly, which is a symptom that the organs are slowing function, which is extremely dangerous. Mental state may change as well; some people become confused and agitated. Do not attempt to wait and see if these early symptoms of sepsis get better. It is important to receive emergency treatment as soon as possible. This is another reason to be certain to care for any injuries or infections in the body, to clean cuts and scrapes well, and to take an entire course of antibiotics when prescribed, to be sure all infections are killed before they can spread.