What are the general signs and symptoms of bacterial sepsis?

Updated: Feb 05, 2019
  • Author: Amber Mahmood Bokhari, MBBS; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Answer

The history and physical examination findings are nonspecific but may suggest the likely source of the septic process and thereby help determine the appropriate antimicrobial therapy and other interventions. General signs and symptoms of sepsis may include the following:

  • Fever, with or without shaking chills (temperature >38.3ºC or < 36ºC)
  • Impaired mental status (in the setting of fever or hypoperfusion)
  • Increased breathing rate (>20 breaths/min) resulting in respiratory alkalosis
  • Warm or cold skin, depending on the adequacy of organ perfusion and dilation of the superficial skin vessels
  • Hypotension requiring pressor agents to maintain systolic blood pressure above 65 mm Hg

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