The Healthy Food Guide team believe that making small diet and lifestyle changes brings the best long-term gains. We look at the science behind the headlines and promote a balanced way of eating.

In the news today, Tom Ray, who woke from a coma to discover his arms and legs had been amputated and part of his face removed as a complication of sepsis, has called for mandatory training for NHS staff.

HFG spoke to Dr Ron Daniels, a consultant in critical care at Good Hope Hospital NHS Trust and chief executive of The UK Sepsis Trust, as part of our feature on sepsis in a recent issue of Healthy Food Guide magazine.

He had this to say: ‘Sepsis isn’t one disease, but the result of your body’s immune system going into overdrive in response to an infection or injury. Normally our immune system fights off infection, but sometimes it starts attacking the body’s own tissues and organs, resulting in organ failure and death.

‘There’s been an 8 to 13% increase in sepsis cases per year over the past 10 years. Although part of this is down to greater awareness and a growing and ageing population, this doesn’t fully explain the rise in cases. Although it’s not yet proven, we believe it’s entirely plausible that the increase is at least partly fuelled by the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. This is why it’s so vital that people recognise the signs so they can be treated with the right type of antibiotics as early as possible.’

The sobering facts

  • 27% of admissions to intensive care are for sepsis
  • 1 in 5 of all sepsis survivors suffer from permanent, life-changing after-effects
  • 5 people are killed by sepsis every hour in the UK


Could it be sepsis?

Familiarise yourself with these warning signs – and seek urgent medical help if you or someone else develops them and you’re concerned that sepsis may be a factor.

In adults:

  • Slurred speech or confusion
  • Extreme shivering or muscle pain
  • Passing no urine over the course of a day
  • Severe breathlessness
  • Skin is mottled or discoloured

In children:

  • A fever or a very low temperature
  • Very fast breathing
  • A fit or convulsion
  • Appears very pale or mottled blue
  • Has a rash that does not fade when you press it
  • Very lethargic and difficult to wake
  • Feels abnormally cold to the touch.

A child under five may have sepsis if he or she:

  • is not feeding
  • is vomiting repeatedly
  • has not passed urine for 12 hours.

Click here to download the Sepsis Trust’s Sepsis Manual, for a complete overview on sepsis and its symptoms.

If you recognise the signs of sepsis in yourself or anyone you know, it is advised that you call 111 or visit a hospital immediately.