Early signs of sepsis include rapid breathing and a change in mental state, according to MedlinePlus. Additional symptoms of sepsis are high or low body temperature, rapid heartbeat, skin rash, shaking and lightheadedness.
Immediate medical care is required if an individual exhibits sepsis symptoms, according to WebMD. Immediate and proper treatment is especially important if the individual is diabetic, has AIDS, has had an organ transplant or is being treated with chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
Mild sepsis is generally not life-threatening, though more severe sepsis can be very harmful and potentially deadly, according to Mayo Clinic. The brain, kidneys and heart begin to function abnormally as sepsis progresses. Septic shock is the most severe stage of sepsis, and about half of its cases are deadly.
Sepsis most commonly occurs in individuals who are in hospitals, explains Mayo Clinic. Since sepsis develops due to an infection in the body, individuals in intensive care or who have recently undergone surgery are especially at risk for the condition. Other individuals who are at more risk for sepsis include those who are very young or old, have injuries, have immune system problems, are very sick or have invasive medical devices.
A doctor often determines that an individual has a sepsis-causing infection through a blood test, according to MedlinePlus. Sometimes a doctor uses other tests for diagnosis, such as a white blood cell count, kidney function tests, a platelet count, a blood gases test or a blood differential.