What are the signs and symptoms of sepsis?

Updated: Oct 07, 2020
  • Author: Andre Kalil, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Michael R Pinsky, MD, CM, Dr(HC), FCCP, FAPS, MCCM  more...
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Detrimental host responses to infection occupy a continuum that ranges from sepsis to septic shock and multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS). The specific clinical features depend on where the patient falls on that continuum.

Signs and symptoms of sepsis are often nonspecific and include the following:

  • Fever (usually >101°F [38°C]), chills, or rigors

  • Confusion

  • Anxiety

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Fatigue, malaise

  • Nausea and vomiting

In sepsis, symptoms may include decreased urine output and cyanosis (blueish discoloration of the lips and/or digits).

Alternatively, typical symptoms of systemic inflammation may be absent in sepsis, especially in elderly individuals.

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