Septic shock: key facts to know

What is septic shock?

Septic shock is a complication of sepsis (generalised infection). It's often described as three stages - starting with sepsis, passing through severe sepsis and moving on to septic shock. So while the two are not synonymous, they are very closely linked. Sepsis is also often called "blood poisoning", or septicaemia. Sepsis and septicaemia, however, aren't quite the same condition.

Why is septic shock in the news?

Last week, it was announced that the death of boxing legend Muhammad Ali was caused by "septic shock due to unspecified natural causes". The 74-year-old had been suffering from a respiratory illness, a condition that was complicated by the fact he had Parkinson's disease.

What is sepsis and why is it so dangerous?

Sepsis is a reaction by the body to severe infection. The germs involved in sepsis can be bacteria, viruses or fungi. About one in 500 people develop severe sepsis in England every year. This number is much higher in developing countries. Sepsis is a medical emergency and treatment needs to be started as soon as possible. Always seek urgent medical advice or get straight to hospital if you think you or someone close to you may have sepsis.

What are the symptoms of sepsis?

Here are the symptoms to look out for in children .

Here are the symptoms to look out for in adults.