Symptoms of sepsis in older adults

By 14/04/2024April 24th, 2024Advice
Daughter hugging elder mother

Sepsis is a serious medical condition that is characterised by the body’s extreme response to an infection. It can arise from any type of infection, including bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic infections.

Sepsis is a medical emergency that requires rapid diagnosis and treatment, as it can lead to organ failure, shock, and even death if not treated promptly. People who are over 65 are even more susceptible to sepsis, especially those with chronic health problems or a compromised immune system.

Early signs of sepsis

Sepsis usually begins with an infection. In response to this, the body’s immune system releases chemicals into the bloodstream. The inflammatory response triggered by the infection can lead to swelling and reduced blood flow to vital organs. 

As sepsis progresses, the inadequate blood flow and oxygen delivery to the organs can result in organ dysfunction or failure. It is important to recognise the early signs of sepsis, as in severe cases it can lead to septic shock.

Symptoms of sepsis in older adults

Recognising the symptoms of sepsis in older adults is crucial. However, it can sometimes be challenging, because the symptoms present may differ from those in younger individuals. Older adults may not always exhibit classic signs of infection, such as fever or localised pain. Instead, they may have  vague symptoms or a decline in overall function. Therefore, any sudden change in an older adult’s health should be taken seriously and evaluated promptly by a healthcare professional.

Early recognition and treatment of sepsis can significantly improve the outcome and reduce the risk of further health complications. Here are some common symptoms of sepsis in older adults to look out for:



  • A fever, but also a lower than normal body temperature, known as hypothermia.
  • The heart may beat faster than usual.
  • Breathing may be more rapid than usual.
  • Infection can affect the brain, leading to confusion, disorientation, agitation or changes in behaviour.
  • Profound weakness, fatigue, dizziness or feeling lightheaded.
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
  • Impaired kidney function, leading to a decrease in urination. This symptom may be overlooked in older adults, especially if they already have pre-existing kidney disease.


The key to ensuring that sepsis in an older adult is not fatal is early recognition and prompt treatment. Preventive measures, such as good hygiene practices, timely treatment of infections and vaccinations, can help reduce the risk of developing sepsis.

Why choose Bright Care for your loved one

Our elder in-home care is designed to provide peace of mind for families who cannot always be there to care for their loved ones. Bright Care can support your family by providing tailored in-home care services that focus on bringing joy and purpose to those in their later years. 

To find out more about the companionship style of elder care we offer, please call our team on 0330 024 1327 or get in touch via our contact form.

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